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Last Updated: Sunday, 11 May, 2003, 08:00 GMT 09:00 UK
Tories call for euro referendum
Iain Duncan Smith
Mr Duncan Smith: Weekend a success
Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith has called on Tony Blair to hold a referendum on Britain joining the single currency.

He was speaking at the end of his party's weekend gathering to discuss policy at Chesham, in Buckinghamshire.

The Tory leader said the meeting had helped finalise the "fair deal for everyone" approach, which would form the basis of the party's strategy for the next General Election.

His party's success in last week's local elections, in which it won more than 500 seats, proved it was a serious contender to form a government, he told the BBC.

Mr Duncan Smith challenged the prime minister to stop talking about his "passion" for the euro and call the euro referendum as soon as possible.

We are a serious party that could get into government at the next election
Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith

His message to Mr Blair was: "Either go for it and make the referendum and let the British people say no, which I believe they will.

"Or shut up, get off that and get back onto public services which is what they really want.

"We are the ones that will not take Britain into the euro."

His comments came as one of the leading groups campaigning for British membership of the European single currency said it could collapse if a referendum date is not set soon.

Britain in Europe said the organisation would suffer mass resignations if the vote on whether to join the euro was put back.

Public service reform

Mr Duncan Smith accused Labour of focusing too much on the euro and failing to deliver on public service reform.

In contrast he said the Tory party would focus on reforming health, education and policing.

He said the local elections had left the Conservatives as the largest party in local government.

"There is a challenge for the BBC and other broadcasters to face up to the fact that the Conservative Party last week made a very remarkable move forward to have won all those seats," he said.

"We are a serious party that could get into government at the next election. I want this party to be treated seriously by the broadcasters.

The party announced on Saturday it was to complain about the BBC's coverage of the local elections claiming the broadcaster played down its success and consistently over-estimated the Liberal Democrats' share of the vote.

The weekend meeting came ahead of Mr Duncan Smith delivering a keynote speech in London on policy on Tuesday.

Conservative party leader Iain Duncan Smith
"We will be offering the public a fair deal"

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