Beckett's Euro-caution

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It became clearer yesterday that a Labour government would not join a single European currency when it is launched in two years' time, as Margaret Beckett, the party's trade and industry spokeswoman, publicly expressed doubts.

Mrs Beckett said: "The great nightmare for Britain has always been that our economy would not be sufficiently strong for it to be an easy option to choose whether or not to join, depending on what we think of the package when we actually see it."

Her comments closely followed the cautious note sounded by Robin Cook, the shadow Foreign Secretary, at the weekend, in what appeared to be part of a concerted exercise. John Rentoul