Monetary Union: Hostility to single currency falls

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The Independent Online
The public's hostility to British membership of the single currency is at its lowest this decade, according to a new poll for Salomon Smith Barney, the investment bank. With 32 per cent saying they would vote to join if a referendum were held tomorrow, and 52 per cent saying they would vote against, the balance of minus 19 per cent (after rounding) against membership is the lowest since Mori started conducting this opinion survey in November 1991.

The detailed results show a sharp swing since November in favour of joining amongst Labour and Liberal Democrat voters, people at both the very top and very bottom of the income scale, and amongst 25- to 44-year-olds. Asked about their intentions if the Government was strongly urging membership, the proportion saying they would vote no in a referendum fell below a half, and the balance opposed dropped to minus 9 per cent. "Europe" has ranked amongst the top five voter concerns every month for the past year, and is on a par with the more usual priorities such as unemployment and education.

According to the report from the bank, the financial markets regard Britain's entry into the single currency by 2003 to be a near-certainty.