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Sunday, 1 October, 2000, 13:56 GMT 14:56 UK
Millionaire denies Tory donation offer
Paul Sykes
Paul Sykes has an estimated 420m fortune
Millionaire businessman Paul Sykes will meet a key Tory official this week amid rumours that he will give a major donation to the party's general election campaign.

But he has rubbished suggestions that he will bankroll the Conservative's forthcoming election campaign with a donation of between 10 and 20m.

Mr Sykes has said that he will commit money to the Tories only if he is satisfied with their policy on the euro.

The party has refused to comment on any rumours of a possible donation.

I would never go to a meeting offering an amount of money to a political party

Paul Sykes
Anti-euro campaigner Mr Sykes has already met Tory party officials, and the party has confirmed that he will meet Conservative chief executive David Prior at the Tory conference this week.

The Foreign Secretary Robin Cook warned that the Tories would have resorted to "chequebook democracy" if they accepted a large donation from Mr Sykes.

A close adviser to Mr Sykes reportedly told The Sunday Times that the businessman would pledge between 10 and 20m, but Mr Sykes has denied offering any money to the Tories.

'Wet and waffling'

He told BBC Radio 4: "There is no truth whatsoever in any commitment of any financial amount to any political party.

"I would never go to a meeting offering an amount of money to a political party because I know all the lumber that I have got in before."

He said he intended to see "what support if any" he could give the party, but stressed: "If the Conservative Party continues on in a wet and waffling way, I will not be supporting them at all."

William Hague
Sykes has returned to the party since William Hague took over
Mr Sykes stressed that if he did not get satisfactory assurances from the Tories, he would continue campaigning against the single currency alone.

He would appear to have considerable support within the Tory Party. Prominent eurosceptic MP Bill Sykes said two-thirds of Tory MPs were in favour of ruling out a single currency forever.

Official Tory policy is to rule out joining for the euro for at least the duration of the next parliament.

Danish campaign

Mr Sykes said he left the Conservative Party because of John Major's 'wait and see' policy and had rejoined when William Hague ruled out signing any further treaties without a referendum.

"If a political party like the Tories want to make that situation as clear as possible and tell the truth about the euro and its implications, I would like to help them," he said.

Danish anti-euro demonstration
Sykes gave money to Danish anti-euro campaigners
Should the Tories win the general election, Mr Sykes has said he would want a referendum on the euro within months, and he is also hoping the party will campaign against the single currency.

Mr Sykes, who has an estimated fortune of 420m, used his wealth to bankroll anti-euro candidates in the last general election.

He told The Sunday Telegraph that he had spent "more than half a million pounds" helping the successful anti-euro campaign in Denmark.

He told the BBC that he is looking to campaign for a referendum in France and Germany, the two biggest economies in the single currency.

"The German and French people are getting caught up in the same nonsense and the same lies," he said.

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See also:

14 Jun 00 | UK Politics
Anti-euro millionaire leans to Hague
21 Apr 99 | UK Politics
Anti-euro push 'a fight for democracy'
13 Apr 99 | Euro latest
Pro-euro fightback begins
09 Jan 99 | UK Politics
Millionaire backs anti-euro campaign
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