Hague `sold his soul' to sceptics

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THE PRIME MINISTER stepped up his attack on William Hague's position on the single European currency yesterday, accusing him of turning the Tories into a "monomaniacal, single-issue party".

During angry exchanges at question time, Tony Blair said that Mr Hague had "sold his political soul to the Eurosceptic right wing of the Conservative Party". But the Tory leader, in turn, claimed Mr Blair was "arrogantly disregarding" the views of people who did not want to join the euro. "Only you can think the one thing you are committed to in principle, you are not committed to in practice," Mr Hague said.

"The truth is you are 100 per cent committed to abolishing the pound and zero per cent willing to justify it. You are 100 per cent proof New Labour, 100 per cent arrogance on this subject and zero per cent courage."

Mr Hague urged Mr Blair to make a choice between admitting it was wrong to join the euro or having the "guts to argue the case for doing so".

The Prime Minister replied: "We've had it now - you are the man who's going to fight to save the pound at the next election, but at the election after that give it away. What a ridiculous policy! I will carry on arguing for our point of view which is a better point of view than the ridiculous position that you have put yourself in."

The fact there was no longer a place in the Tory Party for "a decent One Nation Tory" like Lord Gilmour of Craigmillar, who has been expelled for rebelling against Mr Hague, showed, Mr Blair said, "how extreme" the Tories had become.

Mr Blair said Mr Hague had asked more than 50 questions on the single currency at Prime Minister's question time, compared with none on education and two on crime. The Tories were "so obsessed by Europe because they want underneath that to conceal on every other major policy issue they are moving further and further and further to the right," he added.