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Tuesday, 11 July, 2000, 17:02 GMT 18:02 UK
Mayor aims to lead euro campaign
London Mayor Ken Livingstone
Ken Livingstone: The City's future depends on the euro
London Mayor Ken Livingstone is putting himself at the forefront of the campaign for the UK to join the euro.

Speaking to an audience of the London First group in the City, the mayor will underline what he says is the vital importance of membership of the European single currency.

Mr Livingstone will restate his view that signing up to the euro is the only way to ensure the capital's future as Europe's financial centre - and declare that under his mayorship London will lead the way..

He will say London "does not have to campaign for euro membership at the same tempo as the rest of the country".

Calling on supporters of the euro in London to now begin campaigning to join, the mayor will also say he believes it is inevitable that Chancellor Gordon Brown's five economic conditions for entry will be met.

Mr Livingstone's remarks came after Treasury Minister Melanie Johnson told MPs she believed it was not certain that the UK would sign up to the euro.

Giving evidence to the Commons Treasury Select Committee earlier on Tuesday, she said: "Membership is not inevitable."

London needs the euro

But Mr Livingstone used his first speech to a general business audience since the 4 May mayoral election to stress that the issue was of vital importance to the capital, and that support the euro in London was already stronger than elsewhere in the UK.

The City of London
London should plough ahead with a euro campaign says the mayor
He will tell his audience of business leaders: "London has sufficient critical economic and political mass that it does not have to campaign for euro membership at the same tempo as the rest of the country.

"Strong support for the euro in London can also weigh heavily in the national debate."

He will also insist that the campaign for the "historic decision" of joining the euro "can only be led by the prime minister".

Mr Livingstone will tell his audience he will "look forward to joining a wide campaign under this leadership".

In a reference to cabinet tensions over strategy and tactics for joining, the mayor will say London should not hold itself back.

"Without dwelling on details it is well known that pro-euro campaigns have periodically been tactically paralysed by considerations that may apply at a national level but do not apply to London."

Mr Livingstone will also lay out what he describes as the two guiding principles for any London-based campaign.

"First, it is clear that when the prime minister launches a national campaign in favour of euro membership, considering that the government's five criteria are fulfilled, a London campaign falls in fully, in reality dissolves itself, into this national campaign.

"Second that until this occurs such a London campaign is not paralysed in any way by tactical considerations at the national level from arguing most effectively for euro membership."

His speech comes at a time when the government is facing increasing pressure to join the single currency.

Several major companies and business leaders have warned that their long-term investment in the UK is dependent on Britain's eventual membership of the eurozone.

Some trade unions, particularly those with a base in manufacturing, have expressed their impatience at the government's unwillingness to openly campaign for membership.

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