Page last updated at 15:57 GMT, Tuesday, 16 September 2008 16:57 UK

Lib Dems cool on euro entry date

By Gavin Stamp
BBC News political reporter

Euro and pound notes side by side
The euro has moved to the background of British politics

The Lib Dems have distanced themselves from rapid adoption of the euro after accepting economic and political conditions are not right for entry.

In the last election, the historically most pro-European of the three main parties argued for entry with the right conditions and after a referendum.

But Treasury spokesman Vince Cable said it was "very clear" it would not "make sense" to join the euro at the moment.

But he added the party was committed to helping ratify the EU's Lisbon Treaty.

'Political mood'

At their conference in Bournemouth, Lib Dem members backed a motion calling for closer EU co-operation on issues such as counter-terrorism, defence, energy and cutting carbon emissions, and also for tougher scrutiny of how nation states spend EU money.

In the preceding debate, foreign affairs spokesman Ed Davey acknowledged conditions were not right for entry but said he believed the party should still make the case for the benefits of the euro.

Earlier, Mr Cable said it was not desirable to adopt the single currency now.

It is a cynical attempt to trick voters into supporting them in next years European elections
Nigel Farage, UK Independence Party

"It is very clear, not just in terms of the political mood in the country but in terms of the basic economics, that it wouldn't actually make sense to join the euro in the present circumstances," he said.

His comments were more explicit than those of party leader Nick Clegg who said on Sunday that the issue was not on the "radar screen".

But the party's position was criticised by the UK Independence Party which said it had "dropped" support for the euro like a "hot potato".

"This is not a road to Damascus conversion, it is a cynical attempt to trick voters into supporting them in next year's European elections," said UKIP's leader Nigel Farage.

In Tuesday's debate, former Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy said the party should issue a "clarion call" about its pro-European stance ahead of the 2009 elections and not "pander" to euro-scepticism.

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