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EDITIONS
 Thursday, 29 August, 2002, 17:44 GMT 18:44 UK
Pro-euro group hits back at critics
Spanish beach
Has the "holiday effect" failed to materialise?
Claims the campaign for British entry to the single European currency is in trouble after opinion polls failed to move over the summer months have been angrily denied.

Of course people have not come back from their holidays as instant converts to the euro

Britain in Europe
Campaigners hoped Brits would warm to the euro after using it for the first time on their summer holidays.

But recent polls suggest that, if anything, the reverse has happened.

Now the pro-euro Britain in Europe group has taken out a full page ad in left wing journal The New Statesman to hit back at its critics.

'Scare stories'

In the ad, headlined "So did your hands drop off?" (a reference to scare stories about euro coins causing skin rashes), the group claims it never expected the "holiday effect" to be instant.

It says: "This summer, millions of British holiday-makers have used Europe's new common currency for the first time.

It shows the level of frustration in the pro-euro campaign

The No Campaign
"Because the headline polls have hardly changed in the past month, anti-Europeans now claim this contact has undermined the pro-euro case.

They fundamentally misunderstand the importance of people's direct experience."

It concludes: "Of course people have not come back from their holidays as instant converts to the euro - most will want to hear about the pros and cons.

"But this summer's experience will make them much less likely to believe the scare stories the next time around."

'Weird'

In May this year, Britain in Europe's campaign director Simon Buckby told BBC News Online returning summer holidaymakers would take his campaign to a "new level".

Tony Blair
Mr Blair will be watching the polls
But on Thursday a spokesman said this was not a direct reference to opinion polls.

"It means people will be more receptive to pro-euro arguments," he said.

The Britain in Europe's ad was dismissed as "weird" and a "panic measure" by the anti-euro No Campaign.

Neil O'Brien, of Business for Sterling, said: "It shows the level of frustration in the pro-euro campaign.

"They've been patronising us for months, saying that 'when the little people use the euro on holiday they'll change their minds'.

"But people aren't stupid. The euro means higher unemployment and lower living standards.

"We have a brighter future outside it."

Iraq factor

The government has until next June to complete the assessment of its five economic tests for euro entry.

But most observers believe Tony Blair will not risk a referendum until the polls are more favourable.

The most recent monthly poll by Barclays Capital found 49% of people would still vote against joining the euro, with 36% in favour, the joint worst result since the poll started.

Polls by banks Credit Suisse First Boston and Salomon Smith Barney showed a similar picture.

Earlier, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said the decision to hold a euro referendum would not be affected by possible military action in Iraq.

Some commentators have suggested the two things could not happen at the same time.


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22 Aug 02 | Politics
14 Aug 02 | Politics
02 Jul 02 | Politics
08 May 02 | Politics
29 Aug 02 | Politics
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