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Saturday, January 9, 1999 Published at 10:58 GMT


UK Politics

Millionaire backs anti-euro campaign

The Democracy Movement: Distributing a million leaflets

The anti-European Democracy Movement has launched the first major nationwide intiative to turn British public opinion against the new European single currency, the euro.


BBC Political correspondent Emma Udwin: Business leaders won't get involved unless ministers take the lead
One of the UK's leading Eurosceptics, millionaire businessman Paul Sykes, is backing the £20m campaign to cement the British public's generally hostile attitude to dropping the pound.

Starting on Saturday, the movement will be distributing one million leaflets at 240 locations in 152 towns as part of its Democracy Day campaign.


Emma Udwin: Opinion polls show a lack of enthusiasm for the euro
The government has promised a referendum on joining the euro, but it has not scheduled one for this session of Parliament.

The Democracy Movement believes that if it can use that time to prove that any such referendum would be unwinnable for a "yes" campaign, then the ministers would not hold a vote on the issue.


[ image: Paul Sykes:
Paul Sykes: "Real debate"
Mr Sykes, who backed 200 Tory Eurosceptics at the last election, said: "This is the first stage of a campaign that will build up to the referendum on British membership of the euro.

"We are determined not to allow the government and other supporters of the euro to brainwash the population into believing that they have no choice but to vote 'Yes'.

"People need information about the consequences of a single currency and the Democracy Movement aims to ensure a real debate takes place."

Mr Sykes' latest campaign has provoked an angry reaction from pro-European groups.

The European Movement said he was "peddling misinformation".

Director Stephen Woodard denied the Democracy Movement's claim that by giving up the pound the UK would be sacrificing sovereignty and control over its own finances, with "all decisions concerning the British economy taken by unelected bankers".

'Hysterical exaggerations'

"In the euro we will retain control over taxing and spending, and will benefit from the low interest rates and economic stability which the euro will bring," he said.

"Rather than these hysterical exaggerations, the Democracy Movement should deal with a few facts.

"The most important fact... is that the euro became a reality eight days ago and Britain is losing out by staying out."

But the pro-European movement lacks the resources of Mr Sykes.

Accountancy firm KPMG says that businesses in favour of the euro will not openly back the campaign to drop the pound unless government ministers show leadership.

UK Chairman Mike Rake said: "There is a feeling that unless there is a positive move forward towards the euro it is difficult for those sections of industry who strongly support it to get behind something. They need a banner - a rallying point."



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