BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: UK: Politics  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
Politics
Education
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Sunday, 6 January, 2002, 16:30 GMT
Ministers back euro policy
Commons Leader Robin Cook
Robin Cook said government euro policy is unchanged
Labour ministers have backed the UK Government's policy on the euro after a week when speculation about joining the European single currency reached fever pitch.

Commons leader Robin Cook told the BBC that the government's policy on the euro was unchanged insisting that the five economic tests had to be met before the issue was put to the public vote.


The longer the parallel currencies continue, the more the problems will be

Commons Leader Robin Cook
His comments came as three out of four polls indicated on Sunday that Britain is still in favour of keeping the pound.

Meanwhile Europe minister Peter Hain has denied saying Britain joining the euro was inevitable.

Economic tests

Speaking on BBC One's Breakfast With Frost, Mr Cook said nothing was inevitable about Britain's entry into the Euro.

But the commons leader, who is seen as one of the Cabinet's leading supporters of the euro, warned Britain's position in Europe could be threatened by staying out of the single currency.

"The longer the parallel currencies continue, the more the problems will be."

"If we want to continue with that very strong powerful leading role within the European Union, it is going to be more challenging to do that if we are outside the inner club," continued the former Foreign Secretary.


We will not rush the tests or fudge the assessment and we will not take any risks with Britain's hard-won economic stability

Treasury Chief Secretary, Andrew Smith

He said the successful introduction of the euro and its subsequent rise on the foreign exchanges was a hammer blow for those who argue Britain should never join under any circumstances.

But Mr Cook insisted government policy had not changed.

"The economic conditions have got to be right.

"As Tony Blair has said that is not window dressing that is fundamental."

However he said the government would have to weigh up both the economic and the political implications before recommending joining.

'No eurofanatic'

Elsewhere Europe Minister Mr Hain said he had not been reprimanded by Foreign Secretary Jack Straw over comments he made as the single currency was introduced in 12 eurozone countries on New Year's Day.

Europe Minister Peter Hain
Mr Hain: Denied saying euro entry 'inevitable'
Instead he insisted the economic assessment for the UK joining the euro would have to be "clear and unambiguous".

Speaking on GMTV's The Sunday Programme, Mr Hain insisted he never said that Britain joining the euro was inevitable.

"Nothing is inevitable in politics, there has got to be a referendum," he said.

On Tuesday's launch of the euro, Mr Hain said he doubted whether, in the end, it was possible to have a "kind of parallel currency economy".

But on GMTV he denied that he was a "euro-fanatic" or that he wanted to join the single currency as soon as possible.

Economic stability

Treasury Chief Secretary Andrew Smith also insisted the assessment would be made on "whether it is clearly in Britain's economic interest to join".

"This government is determined that we will take the right long-term decisions for Britain so we will not rush the tests or fudge the assessment and we will not take any risks with Britain's hard-won economic stability," he told the BBC's The World This Weekend programme.

"To join without making sure rigorously that the tests are met would not be in the national economic interest," Mr Smith concluded.

Opinion polls

Three out of four opinion polls this weekend suggest opposition to the euro still strong.

An ICM poll for the News of the World found that just 31% of people questioned would vote yes to joining, compared to 56% who would vote no.

Another 12% said they remain undecided about the issue.

In an ICM poll for The Business 73% said Britain was better off retaining control of its economy and keeping the pound for the foreseeable future.

Another ICM poll for the No Campaign, in the Sunday Telegraph, also found 73% polled were against the introduction of the euro, as against 21% who said Britain should join.

But a survey carried out on behalf of the Sunday Times showed that British voters may be warming towards the euro.

The online poll of 4,702 people, conducted by YouGov Opinion Research between 3-5 January, revealed that 52% of people want to join the euro.

Some 18% said they would join immediately while 34% said they would join when the economic conditions were right. Only 25% said they believed Britain should never join.

 VOTE RESULTS
UK euro entry: A political decision?

Yes
 75.87% 

No
 24.13% 

3307 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion


Key stories

In or out?

Background/analysis

CLICKABLE GUIDES

TALKING POINT
See also:

04 Jan 02 | Business
01 Jan 02 | UK Politics
05 Jul 01 | Business
01 Jan 02 | UK Confidential
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


E-mail this story to a friend



© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes