Opposition to euro at all-time high

British hostility to the euro has hit an all-time high, according to the first opinion poll since Sweden's voters rejected their government's plans to join the single currency.

Fifty-three per cent of people surveyed now oppose entry to the euro even if the UK Government were to back entry, according to a survey by pollsters NOP for investment bank Barclays Capital.

Opponents now outnumber supporters by 22 per cent, the largest margin of opposition in the survey's three-year history and a 15 percentage point increase since April. Without government support for the project the picture is even darker for euro supporters, with 63 per cent against and just 22 per cent in favour leaving a margin of defeat of a near-record 41 percentage points.

"A referendum on the euro during this Parliament is now even more unlikely," said David Hillier, chief UK economist at Barclays Capital.

"The Government could be forced to combine a vote on the single currency with a general election if it wants the UK to join the euro anytime soon".

He said the slump in support came as the Government's popularity actually jumped1 per cent, implying that even a further rebound in support for the Blair administration would not lift support for the euro.

Mr Hillier also played down speculation that support had been undermined by the result of the Swedish poll, where electors rejected the euro by a wide margin 56 per cent to 42 per cent. Mr Hillier said: "The UK's deeply entrenched 'romantic attachment' to the pound has ... far more to do with 'intangible' concerns over what is perceived to be unnecessary EU interference in everyday life."

A separate MORI poll for Citigroup showed the share against entry rose to 61 per cent in September from 59 per cent in June.