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The BBC's Shaun Ley
"William Hague is unhappy with Sir Peter Tapsell"
 real 56k

Shadow home secretary, Ann Widdecombe
"Colourful language can sometimes give a wrong impression"
 real 28k

Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown
"The important thing is what was being said by Mr Blair"
 real 56k

Liberal Democrat leader, Charles Kennedy
"I hope William Hague will disown it completely"
 real 28k

Sunday, 13 May, 2001, 13:35 GMT 14:35 UK
Hague faces euro split
Sir Peter Tapsell and William Hague
Sir Peter Tapsell's words have embarrassed Hague
Labour and the Liberal Democrats have challenged William Hague over comments made by a Conservative MP over the single currency.

They say Mr Hague's ability to control his party is being tested after senior Conservative MP Sir Peter Tapsell compared Germany's blueprint for future European union with Hitler's Mein Kampf.

We may not have studied Hitler's Mein Kampf in time but, by heaven, there is no excuse for us not studying the Schroeder plan now

Sir Peter Tapsell
Sir Peter says his comments were taken out of context but Labour claims 71 other Tory MPs have defied their official party line which only rules out joining the euro for five years.

William Hague insists Sir Peter's views are his own and are not shared by the leadership.

Rule out forever

Sir Peter is pledging to his constituents that he will never agree to join the euro.

But his message was overshadowed by the way he compared Germany's proposals for a European government with Hitler's blueprint for the Third Reich.

Sir Peter denies accusing German Chancellor Gerhard Shroeder of using Nazi-like tactics.

But in an election address in his constituency, he was reported as saying: "We may not have studied Hitler's Mein Kampf in time but, by heaven, there is no excuse for us not studying the Schroeder plan now."

Gordon Brown
Brown attacked Tory "divisions" on Europe
"You may be sure that the currency section of Dr Goebbels' Guide to Falsehood is already well thumbed by the Labour spin doctors."

Distancing the Conservative leadership from Sir Peter's words, shadow home secretary Ann Widdecombe told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "You don't need to invoke Hitler to oppose the single European currency.

"Of course colourful language can sometimes give a wrong impression. I wouldn't have used that expression. I don't believe that many people in the party would."

Chancellor Gordon Brown said: "The extreme statements of Sir Peter Tapsell are now a test of William Hague's leadership, a test of whether he can bring himself to make clear to all candidates the kind of language used by Sir Peter Tapsell should have no place in British politics."

And Labour released the names of 71 Tory MPs it says share Sir Peter's view that Britain should never join the euro.

Hague response

Asked about Sir Peter's remarks, Mr Hague "There is nothing new in this.

"Peter Tapsell has been saying this to anyone who would listen in the House of Commons and elsewhere for more than 20 years.

"His views are his own and are not shared by the Conservative Party leadership."

Mr Hague stressed that voters faced a clear choice at the election between keeping the pound under the Tories and losing it under Labour.

For the Lib Dems, Charles Kennedy also attacked Sir Peter's comments.

"I think that is abysmal talk and I hope William Hague will disown it completely," he said.

Campaigning in Scotland, Mr Kennedy said the Tory leader had to "get a grip" on his party on the issue of Europe.

"The Conservatives are clearly as split from top to bottom on the issue of the single currency every bit as bad as they were under John Major in the last election," he said.


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