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Friday, 12 July, 2002, 14:33 GMT 15:33 UK
Warning over May euro vote
The UK's euro referendum should not be held on the same day as elections for the devolved assemblies and local authority polls, the government has been warned.

The Electoral Commission, which monitors the administration of elections and political party finances, said holding the referendum on 1 May, 2003 would cause "significant confusion" among voters.


Although there might be a beneficial effect on turnout generally, such a combination would have a number of disadvantages

Electoral Commission
No official date has been given for a referendum on UK entry into the single currency but speculation has leaned towards a vote next year and with other polls planned for 1 May then that is a date that has been touted.

But the Electoral Commission warned that with the likely cross-party campaigns for both the "Yes" and "No" camps, the upshot could be widespread confusion.

The recommendation has already been welcomed by the No Campaign.

As well as the local council elections the Welsh and Northern Ireland assemblies and the Scottish parliament are up for re-election.

Control problems

The commission argued that there would be "considerable" difficulty with the regulatory controls and with administration.

"Referendums on fundamental issues of national importance should be considered in isolation," the Electoral Commission said in a statement.

Gordon Brown
Mr Brown devised the five tests`
"While the Electoral Commission recognises that a decision on the timing of a referendum on the single European currency is a matter for the government, it does have concerns about combining it with other major polls in May 2003.

"The Commission's primary concern is the interests of the voter.

"Although there might be a beneficial effect on turnout generally, such a combination would have a number of disadvantages."

The government has long insisted that - before a referendum is called - Chancellor Gordon Brown's five economic tests must be met.

If that happens then Prime Minister Tony Blair will lead the campaign for joining the euro.

If a May 2003 referendum resulted in a vote for joining the single currency then the euro would probably be in circulation before the next general election.


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