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The BBC's Emma Udwin
"The report's authors have pulled out of the launch saying the campaigners have distorted their findings"
 real 28k

Monday, 21 February, 2000, 19:39 GMT
3m jobs 'dependent on EU'
Euro graphic
Britain missed out on the birth of the Euro
Three million jobs could be under threat if Britain left the European Union, Trade and Industry Secretary Stephen Byers has warned.

Mr Byers was launching Britain in Europe's Out of Europe, Out of Work campaign, which is being seen as a direct challenge to Tory leader William Hague's Euroscepticism.

He was speaking as the cross-party pro-European pressure group published the findings of research from South Bank University showing that 2.5 million British jobs depended directly and 900,000 jobs indirectly on Britain's membership of the EU.

EU membership is vital to jobs say ministers
The new campaign coincides with a letter to The Times newspaper by several pro-European Tories, including Kenneth Clarke, Chris Patten, Michael Heseltine and five MEPs, backing the UK's eventual entry into the European single currency.

But Tory leader William Hague has described the campaign as a ploy used by the prime minister to distract debate on the single currency.

Mr Byers said: "For more than three million people, the hard-earned pound in their pocket depends on Britain being in Europe.

"The anti-Europeans would destroy that pound - not save it - by putting jobs at risk.


"We must not allow their political dogma to damage the interests of British business and jobs."

Britain In Europe says it is "preparing the ground" in readiness for a referendum on the single currency, which could follow the next general election if Labour wins.

Speaking at Britain in Europe's headquarters in central London, Mr Byers said that growing scepticism about the EU had been caused by "increasingly irresponsible and extreme anti-European campaigning.

"To turn our backs on Europe would be a betrayal of every British citizen. Millions of British jobs depend on Europe."

William Hague launched his campaign last week
Referring to Mr Hague's keep-the-pound truck campaign, Mr Byers said: "Those benefits can grow, but only if we remain an active partner - an active partner, driving the vanguards of economic reform in Europe and reaping the benefits - not a passenger, standing alone and marginalised on the back of a van."

But Mr Hague described the Britain in Europe campaign as "bogus".

He said: "He is trying to link the mainstream majority who want to keep the pound with the extremist minority who want to leave the European Union.

"His front organisation Britain In Europe is launching a bogus campaign, based on distorted figures about the number of jobs that would be lost if we left the EU."

Mr Hague continued: "Every sensible person agrees that Britain should be in the European Union. The Conservative Party took us into Europe and the Conservative Party will keep us in Europe.

"The real debate in British politics is not about Europe - in or out - as Tony Blair wants to pretend. The real debate is about the euro - in or out - and Tony Blair knows he is losing the argument."

Pro-pound group Business for Sterling chief executive Nick Herbert said pro-Europeans were "raising the spectre of withdrawal from the EU for their own political ends".
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17 Feb 00 |  Business
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Tories launch currency roadshow
30 Dec 99 |  UK Politics
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29 Dec 99 |  UK Politics
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