News of the world of Sir James

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He has his own political party, paid for his own party conference and yesterday the billionaire founder of the Referendum Party, Sir James Goldsmith launched and paid for his very own national newspaper.

For around pounds 2m, the eight-page News from the Referendum Party is being sent to every home in the United Kingdom. In effect a printed version of the speeches made at Sir James's conference in Brighton last year, it calls for a defence of British sovereignty and a vote on the country's future in Europe.

Sir James appeared delighted to be back in British news publishing after his early 1980s flop with the news magazine Now!, which lasted for only a few issues.

Flying in to Heathrow from his home in Mexico, Sir James's entourage drove to Leyton in east London to push the button on the print run of 24 million. "If I press this, will something explode?" he asked. It was his only joke as he went on the attack. "Today we find out [in The Independent] about European plans to harmonise tax. Brussels wanting to increase our tax is also reported in our paper." Sir James, a member of the European Parliament, added the street-sellers' shout of "read all about it".

His newsletter accuses Sir Edward Heath and the Conservative government which took Britain into Europe of lying about the "erosion of essential national sovereignty". It claims we are being "led blindfold into a federal superstate". The Referendum Party's leading figures, including the actor Edward Fox, Viscount Tonypandy, the former Commons speaker, and Baroness Thatcher's economics guru, Professor Sir Alan Walters, are paraded as would-be reporters.

Commenting on the report in The Independent that France and Germany plan a pan-European tax system to operate alongside the single European currency, Sir James said: "We have been forecasting it for a long time - it's now coming out in the open." He mocked Stephen Dorrell, Secretary of State for Health, for his conversion to a Euro-sceptic stance. "They are a joke, the politicians," Sir James said.

With pounds 20m of his fortune earmarked for the campaign to contest every parliamentary seat except those where the main party candidate is pledged to a referendum, he is scheduled to tour the country in his personal jet next month. The party also plans cinema advertisements to reach 7.5 million people, on the theme of the British bulldog biting back

The task may be difficult. A tea lady at the Leyton print works said: "No, I've no idea who he is. One of us thought his son was a famous cricketer."

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