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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 May, 2003, 21:54 GMT 22:54 UK
How the euro divides the cabinet
The debate over UK membership of the euro is one which crosses party lines.

And the differences reflected within the parties can also be found in the cabinet, which includes those who are fervently pro-euro and those who are dead against the currency.

This is BBC News Online's guide to how the cabinet divides over the euro.


TONY BLAIR

The euro is not just about our economy but our destiny
Tony Blair
Labour conference, Sept 2002

The prime minister certainly favours joining the single currency at some point in the future - he told last year's Labour conference that it was the UK's "destiny" to do so.

He is thought to see euro entry as helping to seal his place in history.

But nor will he be keen to risk a referendum which, if current opinion polls are to be believed, he would lose.

Many commentators link the euro decision to Mr Blair's relationship - close when they began their political career but increasingly strained - with Chancellor Gordon Brown.

Like Mr Brown, Mr Blair has repeatedly stressed the need for economic reform in the eurozone.

He has also linked euro membership to what he says is the need for the UK to play a more active role in the EU, "not limping along" behind others.

Verdict: Pro-euro, and believed to be keen on a referendum within two years.


GORDON BROWN

I have always been pro-Europe. And by history, by geography, by economics we are very much part of Europe
Gordon Brown
GMTV, May 2003

The chancellor has held a firm grip over the decision on UK membership of the euro, setting out the five tests for the currency in 1997.

He is seen as sceptical about joining the euro at present, fearing that instability in the eurozone could threaten his overall reputation for successful economic management.

All the signs are that he will say the five euro tests have not been met.

The burning question is when the Treasury might return to look at the tests again.

Mr Brown is said to favour ruling out a referendum on the euro this Parliament - while Mr Blair is believed to want to leave scope for a referendum within the next two years.

Verdict: Anti-euro right now


JACK STRAW

It is a really, really big decision ... it is trying to make judgements about our future and the future interests of the United Kingdom on the basis of past performance
Jack Straw
BBC, June 2001

The foreign secretary has always been regarded as sceptical about the euro, but committed to the UK's role in Europe.

But his view on the currency is said to be more neutral than other more fiercely sceptical ministers and MPs.

Indeed, some say he has had a "quiet conversion" to the euro.

So he would not rock the boat if the UK went for the euro now - but would probably prefer to wait before putting the question to the people.

Verdict: Expected to be in the "not now" camp.


DAVID BLUNKETT

Given that the Danes have their currency linked to the euro, it seems to me that the main message from the referendum in Denmark is, 'Watch out for the electorate's antagonism to the Establishment.'
David Blunkett
Mail on Sunday, October 2000
The home secretary falls squarely in the anti-euro camp.

He has kept his cards close to his chest, rarely commenting on the issue.

But although a committed Blairite, he is believed to lack enthusiasm for euro entry.

He has warned that voters in the Danish euro referendum, which rejected the euro, gave the ruling party a "bloody nose" over the currency.

Verdict: Will be happy with delay.


JOHN PRESCOTT

(The) judgement is on the way and then we will make a recommendation to parliament, there will be a referendum...and the people will make the decision
John Prescott
BBC, December 2001

The deputy prime minister is seen as being sceptical about the euro.

He is regarded as closer to Mr Brown than Mr Blair.

But he is expected to fall into line when the decision comes.

Verdict: Another who will be happy with delay.


JOHN REID

It is a decision for now, it doesn't bind us for any specified period in advance because the decision we are taking is not whether we will join the euro but it is when we will join the euro
John Reid
ITV, May 2003

The leader of the Commons sits firmly in the pro-euro camp.

His comments in May, that it is a question of when the UK joins the euro rather than whether it joins the currency are believed to have infuriated some in the Brown camp.

He is one of those pushing for a commitment to hold a referendum this Parliament.

Verdict: Will go along with delay, but wants commitment to further analysis of five tests soon.


CHARLES CLARKE

My view is that if the economic tests give us a clear message that it would be in Britain's interests or that it would not be in Britain's disinterest - if it's zero or plus - I'd go for it
Charles Clarke
The Times, December 2001

Like Mr Reid, the education secretary falls firmly in the pro-euro camp.

He has said he would push for a referendum even if the case was 50-50 split over whether joining the euro would be in the UK's interests.

He says there is a strong political case for joining the currency.

Verdict: Wants full cabinet discussion of plans and commitment to poll this parliament


ALAN MILBURN

Whilst Iraq and the euro are hugely important for the future of our country and the wider international community, it is not the five tests on the euro that will determine this Labour government's fate
Alan Milburn
Speech, April 2003

The health secretary is both a committed Blairite and supporter of the euro.

He has been pushing for a cabinet debate on the currency, though has been careful to avoid making his views public.

He is also seen as a rival of Gordon Brown, fuelling speculation that he will support Mr Blair in the euro debate.

Verdict: Believes government can win euro poll.


GEOFF HOON

Pro-euro cabinet ministers - including Geoff Hoon....are gearing up for a concerted attack on any Treasury attempt to thwart Mr Blair
Financial Times, April 2003
The defence secretary is seen as pro-euro, though he has rarely been quoted on the issue.

He too has been pushing for a debate on the currency in cabinet.

Verdict: Will accept delay alongside a clear timetable for further consideration


ALISTAIR DARLING

It isn't possible to go it alone - create an economic island in isolation from the problems that everyone has to deal with
Alistair Darling
Speech, April 1998

Mr Darling, the transport secretary, is seen as one of Gordon Brown's closest allies in the cabinet.

He has kept a low profile on the euro - a speech as chief treasury secretary in 1998 stressed the need to play a role in the global economy and not "go it alone".

But he made no reference to the single currency.

Verdict: Expected to support Mr Brown's view


PATRICIA HEWITT

The decision about membership of the single currency needs to be made for the long-term not on the basis of the immediate and short-term situation
Patricia Hewitt
Speech, Jan 2003

The trade and industry secretary is a pro-euro cheerleader.

She has warned that the decision on joining should not be dictated by the current problems in the eurozone.

She has also warned about the risks to inward investment if the UK remains outside the euro.

Ms Hewitt was an aide to Neil Kinnock, who is credited with changing the course of Labour's view of Europe to a more positive stance in the 1980s.

Verdict: Will be looking for the door to be left open for a referendum this parliament.


MARGARET BECKETT

I think we have to recognise that if the euro succeeds then there will come a point when it will be in Britain's interest to be in it
Margaret Beckett
Sunday Times, Feb 2002

The environment secretary was long-regarded as one of the most eurosceptical ministers in the cabinet.

But last year she adopted a much more positive line about the euro.

She said many people would come to see joining the currency as "an evident reality".

Verdict: In the pro-euro camp, but will probably accept delay


ANDREW SMITH

To join without making sure rigorously that the tests are met would not be in the national economic interest
Andrew Smith
BBC, Jan 2000

The work and pensions secretary is seen as a close ally of Gordon Brown.

He backs the chancellor's view on the euro and has stressed the need to take a long-term view, saying the five tests must not be rushed or "fudged".

Verdict: Will be happy to see euro entry put on hold.


PETER HAIN

I am not saying that the euro is inevitable. But the alternative to its adoption is an isolation which is anything but splendid
Peter Hain
Le Figaro, Feb 2002
The Wales Secretary has been one of the most outspoken figures in the euro debate.

Formerly Europe minister, he has regularly spoken on the issue, flying the flag for the pro-euro camp.

He was actually a rebel on the Maastricht treaty, but says he has always backed the single currency in principle.

Verdict: Will be pushing for clear timetable for euro entry


HELEN LIDDELL

We could have a situation where we have a single market with 25 countries, 24 of them in one currency and one in another and I worry about the consequences of that for Scotland
Helen Liddell
BBC, May 2003

Very much in the pro-euro camp.

She spoke out in favour of the single currency in May, warning of the dangers of staying outside the euro.

She denied that the comments were criticism of Gordon Brown's alleged reluctance to join the euro.

Verdict: Pressing for a clear position on the euro.


PAUL MURPHY

The government is committed to a referendum. We can see the potential benefits a single currency might bring and we will back the euro if it is good for British jobs.
Paul Murphy
Speech, May 2000

Another minister seen as pro-euro.

Has publicly backed the "prepare and decide" policy, stressing the importance of the economic arguments on both sides of the debate.

But is thought to be keen to see a referendum in this Parliament.

Verdict: Lining up with Mr Blair.


PAUL BOATENG

The determining factor underpinning any Government decision on membership of the single currency is the national economic interest
Paul Boateng
House of Commons, July 2001

As part of Gordon Brown's team, the chief secretary to the Treasury is honour bound to stick to his boss' policy on the euro.

He has done exactly that, and would be expected to do the same when it comes to the big decision.

Verdict: Backing Mr Brown.


BARONESS AMOS

Ms Short's replacement as International Development Secretary, Baroness Amos, will do what the prime minister wants on the single currency.
Independent, May 2003

The new international development secretary's views on the euro are not widely known.

As a newcomer to the cabinet, however, she is not expected to challenge the prime minister's view.

Verdict: Backing Mr Blair.


OTHERS

Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell usually falls into the pro-euro camp in surveys of the cabinet divide.

Labour chairman Ian McCartney has rarely been quoted on the euro.

His credentials as being close to Gordon Brown and John Prescott would suggest a sceptical view.

But Mr McCartney is also close to the prime minister and renowned for springing surprises.

The Lord Chancellor, Lord Irvine, is believed to support Mr Blair's view on the euro.

His background in the pro-Europe wing of the Labour Party is said to back that view.

Few expect chief whip Hilary Armstrong to do anything other than line up behind Tony Blair's view on the euro.

The views of Lord Williams, the leader of the Lords, are not widely known, but he is thought to back euro entry under the right conditions.





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