Here is a point-by-point account of Gordon Brown and Tony Blair's joint Downing Street press conference on the euro.
Tony Blair and Gordon Brown open the news conference in Downing Street at 1135 BST with the prime minister outlining the potential benefits of joining the euro.The fact that 12 out of the 15 EU members were members of the single currency and two out of the remaining three were due to decide about membership, was the reason why the euro was an issue, said Mr Blair.Based on the detailed Treasury assessments, the government can be precise about the economic benefits of joining the euro, Mr Blair said.Mr Blair said "politics" made the euro a controversial issue in Britain.It was time to make the case for Britain in Europe, said Mr Blair.Mr Brown took up the podium at 1142 BST, to stress that joining the euro could mean a 50% increase in trade over the next 30 years, benefits in investment and growth."If the five tests are met, it's our intention to join the euro," said Mr Brown. "The five tests are our stability guarantee."Mr Brown said any decision will be made in the British national economic interest.The chancellor said ideas and initiatives important to Britain are moving Europe from the old trade bloc, obsessed by internal rules, to a more outward looking Europe, which includes looking towards America.Mr Brown said it was time to sweep aside anti-Europeanism. He resumed his seat for questions at 1146 BST.Mr Blair said it was "a possibility" that there could be a referendum on joining the euro before the next General Election.The government was going to do its best to put the economic conditions in place for joining and there was a "realistic prospect of progress on that", said Mr Blair.Mr Blair said the Tory position on the euro was "complete and unvarnished prejudice".Mr Brown said he thought many people were surprised about the "potential benefits" from the single currency and the effects on trade."Thanks to Gordon's stewardship of the economy, we have low interest rates, low unemployment and low inflation and the prospect of real economic stability," said Mr Blair.Mr Brown said substantial progress had been made on two of the five economic tests of convergence and flexibility.Mr Blair said the country will notice a "definitive change of gear" in the way the government approaches the euro question.The Tories and large parts of the media are opposed not only to the euro, but to Europe, the prime minister said."I think this is a good thing for Britain [joining the euro], only if we make sure this economic difficulties we have identified are removed," said Mr Blair.Referring to allegations about the intelligence that led to the Iraq war, Mr Blair said: "There is not a shred of evidence that we have doctored or manipulated intelligence - that would be absolutely gross if we did so."Back to the euro, Mr Brown insisted that the government was not trying to replicate the housing markets of other countries with Britain's housing market. "It will always be a distinct housing market," he said.Mr Blair said his point to people is, if Britain is to join the EU club, "for goodness sake, let's get in there".Mr Blair said the reason he spoke to other EU leaders and the Japanese prime minister after Mr Brown's statement on the euro, was to explain "exactly what our decision was" and to ensure they were in no doubt about the government's commitment to Europe.Mr Brown denied that he had been guilty of stoking up euro-scepticism by contrasting other economies unfavourably with our own.Mr Blair said sometimes people see the issue of the euro through the prism of the relationship he has with the chancellor to "avoid questions" on either side.Mr Blair said the way the government was setting out its stall on the euro and how it was trying to overcome the obstacles to joining it was "far more important than trying to see all these things through the prism of personalities".Referring to the newspapers' analysis on the euro, Mr Blair said: "There are those who basically would pull us out of Europe."Mr Brown said "we shouldn't pre-judge" the assessment on the euro that will be made in next year's Budget.Mr Blair said it was important to "dislodge" the "big weight of prejudice over Britain's position in Europe".Mr Brown said the pro-Europe campaign would be spelt out in a series of "roadshows".Referring to the UK's dispute with France over Iraq, Mr Blair said he found it "bizarre" that Britain "should depart from Europe" every time it gets into a row with other member countries.Mr Brown said the government will not do anything to put the stability of the British economy at risk."There is a growing together of ideas between Europe and Britain on both fiscal and monetary policy," said Mr Brown.
Mr Blair said the government would not make the same mistake in joining the euro as the previous administration did with the Exchange Rate Mechanism.
"Ultimately, for the British national interest, if we are going to be part of the EU, we should be pulling our weight, doing our best to get the right things out of Europe for Britain," said Mr Blair, before the press conference ended at 1242 BST.
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