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The BBC's Jonathan Beale
"The Government is playing down the significance of the Danish vote"
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Friday, 29 September, 2000, 02:51 GMT 03:51 UK
Danish vote boosts eurosceptics

Danish "No" voters celebrate their anti-euro victory
The Danes' rejection of the euro will almost certainly spur the British to vote the same way on a single European currency, anti-euro campaigners have said.

Tory leader William Hague claimed the result had left the government's policy in disarray.

Danish Prime Minister, Poul Nyrup Rasmussen - who had campaigned hard for a "yes" vote - said Thursday's result was a defeat for him and his party.

The British people have the same right to make their decision for Britain

Robin Cook
Prime Minister Tony Blair, who may soon face a similar problem to Mr Rasmussen, maintains Britain will wait for the economic criteria to be right before staging a referendum.

The euro poll, where 53% of Danes voted against and 47% in favour, became a test not just of the single currency but of the EU's much-heralded drive for increasing political integration.

Euro at a low

Outside Denmark, the vote is expected to send a powerful signal to the rest of Europe.

The euro has already lost a third of its value against the dollar since its launch nearly two years ago.

Robin Cook: "Five economic tests to be met"
Mr Hague, who will stress his party's euro-sceptic credentials in the run-up to the next election, said: "This vote blows out of the water Labour's scare tactics on the euro.

"They claimed that Britain would be isolated if we keep the pound. We are not. They claimed euro membership was inevitable. It is not. They claimed Europe must be one size fits all. It must not."

'British to decide'

A Downing Street spokesman repeated the prime minister's view that the result had no bearing on Britain's future, while Foreign Secretary Robin Cook was also standing firm.

"The people of Denmark have made their decision. The British people have the same right to make their decision for Britain," said Mr Cook.

"We have set out our five economic tests; if they are met the British people will make their decision."

Danish Prime Minister
Danish PM wanted a "Yes" vote
The Foreign Policy Centre in London, which is investigating public opinion on Europe, warned "the tactical mistakes that put the Danish vote on a knife edge could be similarly damaging for the pro-Euro campaign in the UK".

The centre's director Mark Leonard outlined a number of core differences between the two countries which pro-euro campaigners in Britain needed to note in their political arguments. He said:

  • Public trust in pro-euro politicians was lower in Denmark than in Britain, with Mr Blair scoring much higher trust ratings

  • The Danish referendum suffered from "disastrous timing" as it coincided with an all-time low in the value of the euro against the dollar

  • As the kroner was already pegged at a fixed rate to the euro, it was difficult to persuade voters full euro membership would make any positive difference to them

  • Less than half as many voters are open to persuasion on the euro in Denmark, as Danish public opinion has been hardened by a series of six referenda on European issues

    "No" groups jubilant

    On Thursday the "no" campaigners were jubilant that the single currency had been rejected and urged reform of the EU in the wake of the verdict.

    Nick Herbert, chief executive of Business for Sterling, said it showed ministers the voters who elected them would reject the euro.

    "If the euro can be rejected by a small country like Denmark which has close economic ties with Euroland then the euro lobby must realise that is will be rejected by Britain."

    Janet Bush, director of the anti-euro New Europe think-tank, agreed.

    "By voting no the Danish people have expressed their fears of being subsumed into a large, centralised European state, fears that are shared by the majority of British voters," she said.

    The economic fall-out from the vote will be considered in Brussels on Friday when EU finance ministers meet to check the euro's health and decide whether more intervention is needed to prop it up after the latest setback.

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    29 Sep 00 | Europe
    Europe gauges Danish no vote
    28 Sep 00 | UK Politics
    Danish vote rocks Blair
    27 Sep 00 | UK Politics
    UK watches Denmark
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