Labour Conference: Poll shows euro gaining in favour

PUBLIC opposition to Britain's entry to the single currency would drop dramatically if Tony Blair took a strong lead in promoting entry, according to an opinion poll published on the eve of the Labour party conference.

The poll, published by the pro-European GMB union, will send a strong signal to ministers to "get off the fence" on the euro and will increase pressure on them to take a more positive line in the run-up to the next general election.

The debate over Europe will reignite at the conference in Bournemouth this week with several prominent Labour figures, including Peter Mandelson and Robin Cook, the Foreign Secretary, making pro-European speeches which highlight the potential benefits to business of joining the euro.

Ministers have come under fire for failing to provide positive leadership in the European debate. They were criticised for avoiding discussion of the euro in this year's European elections which saw Labour lose seats to the Conservative party.

But next month Robin Cook will warn that Britain's influence in Europe could be jeopardised by not joining the euro. He is to lead the pro-single currency debate within government which believes that the decision to join should be based on economics.

The Foreign Secretary is the first senior Cabinet minister to warn of the political dangers of ruling out entry into the single currency. His remarks, and the results of the poll, will delight pro-Europeans within the party.

The poll shows that the gap between those opposed to the single currency, who are still in the majority, and those willing to vote yes in a referendum would close sharply if the Government were to adopt a more positive line on the issue.

The Mori poll shows that the gap between those opposed to abandoning the pound and those in favour of joining the single currency has fallen from -31 points in July to -22 today.

But when respondents were asked how they would vote, if the Government were to urge strongly that Britain should be part of a single European currency, the gap narrows further to just -12.

"This poll shows that the supertanker of British public opinion is gradually starting to turn," said John Edmonds, general secretary of the GMB.

"But what it also reveals is the extent to which success or failure in a referendum campaign lies squarely in the hands of the Prime Minister. If Tony Blair and his ministers retain the courage of their convictions and go for it, then it's clear that the British people are ready to be won over."

The Britain in Europe Campaign, which will shortly be launched with the support of Tony Blair, Charles Kennedy, Kenneth Clarke and Michael Heseltine, is to host a series of high-profile debates on Europe at this week's Labour conference.

"Europe is a key theme at the conference," said a spokesman for Britain in Europe. "We want to retain the option to join the single currency in the next parliament."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas