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Lady Thatcher
"I would never be prepared to give up our currency"
 real 56k

Tuesday, 22 May, 2001, 19:05 GMT 20:05 UK
Never to euro - Thatcher
Ffion and William Hague with Margaret Thatcher
Lady Thatcher was appearing with William Hague
Lady Thatcher has said she would never join the euro - deviating from Conservative policy which is to rule it out for just one parliament.

She made the comment during an unscripted remark at a Plymouth rally in which she gave a warm endorsement of William Hague's leadership of the Tory party.


Lend us your vote this time, so that your vote will still mean something next time, and the time after, and the time after that

William Hague
She said: "I would never be prepared to give up our own currency."

That prompted Labour to issue an immediate challenge to Mr Hague to "disown" Lady Thatcher's position on the euro.

Health Secretary Alan Milburn said: "Mrs Thatcher has now made the euro a matter of leadership for William Hague.

"She has deliberately issued an invitation to Tory candidates up and down the country to defy William Hague on the euro."

Mr Hague, in his own speech, appealed to voters who did not want to join the euro to back the Conservatives this time around.

He said the choice was between a Labour government that would direct the economy "with a view to joining the euro" or a Tory administration that would make British jobs and British prosperity its "overriding priority".

"I know that there are many people who may never have voted Conservative before, but who want to keep the pound," he said.

Appeal

"I am appealing to those people tonight.

"Lend us your vote this time, so that your vote will still mean something next time, and the time after, and the time after that.

During her speech, Lady Thatcher gave a ringing endorsement of Mr Hague's leadership of the Tories, which she described as "cool and gritty".

To a rapturous reception, she said the Tories were a party in tune with the "deepest instincts" of the British people.

She attacked New Labour as "rootless, empty and artificial" before turning to the issue of Europe.

"My friends, New Labour in its shrivelled heart is embarrassed by our history, scornful of our achievement, oblivious of our legacy," she said.

"They think that they can remove Britain's sovereignty - just as they put up Britain's taxes - by stealth. They are wrong.

"But they are too arrogant and too remote to know it."

'Mighty burden'

"So my friends a mighty burden rests on us. We have 16 days to shift opinion, and to shake this rotten government to the core.

"That is our task.

"Let's go about it now."

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