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The BBC's Carole Walker
"William Hague is stepping up his keep the pound campaign"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 7 June, 2000, 16:26 GMT 17:26 UK
'Keep the Pound' cards launched
Mr Hague at Keep the Pound campaign
Mr Hague says Britain's sovereignty is threatened
Conservative leader William Hague has launched a 'Keep the Pound' commitment card campaign.

The campaign invites people to sign up as a pledge to vote to keep the currency at the next election.

This weekend, the 'Keep the Pound' cards will be handed out at more than 300 places nationwide.

euro notes
Pro-euro campaigners say jobs are at risk
Mr Hague believes the single European currency threatens both the British economy and national sovereignty.

The Conservatives also released details of a poll which they said showed strong support for the pound.

They said the ICM survey, of 1,500 people, showed most voters in the constituency of Prime Minister Tony Blair favoured keeping sterling.

As he launched the cards, Mr Hague was joined by shadow chancellor Michael Portillo and shadow foreign secretary Francis Maude.

'Moderate majority'

Mr Portillo said he believed people would be keen to sign up.

He said there was a moderate majority of people in Britain who wanted to keep the pound and they would not be blown away. It was a solid moderate majority, he said.

Mr Portillo said Mr Blair had previously said he was confident of persuading people to join the euro - but that he would not be able to.

But Conservative former cabinet minister and EU commissioner Lord Brittan dubbed the plan "misguided".

Lord Brittan, of the Conservative Group for Europe, said Mr Hague's stance risked dividing the party.

Later in the day, Prime Minister Tony Blair said it would be "absolute folly" for Britain to rule out the possibility of joining the euro even if it was in the country's interests to do so.

He hoped the Tories would "come to their senses" and realise that the future of the country lies as a "key player" in Europe, "the major strategic alliance on its doorstep".

He restated government policy: "In principle we are in favour of joining a successful single currency, but in practice the economic conditions have to be met," he said.

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See also:

18 Feb 00 | UK Politics
Hague puts anti-euro campaign online
17 Feb 00 | Business
Joining euro 'will cost 36bn'
15 Feb 00 | UK Politics
The circus comes to town
14 Oct 99 | The Economy
Is the UK ready for the euro?
15 Feb 00 | UK Politics
Hague under fire at euro campaign
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