Pro-euro campaign endorsed by Blair

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TONY BLAIR moved up a gear in his campaign to persuade the British public to join the single currency last night by endorsing a drive to "explain the benefits" of the euro.

The Prime Minister supported a mission statement issued by Britain In Europe, the embryo "Yes" campaign for a single currency referendum. The statement was published to regain the initiative in response to conflicting signals over the organisation's goals.

It said: "We aim to promote public understanding of the importance to Britain of playing a leading role in the European Union, and of retaining the option to join a single currency in the next Parliament while explaining the benefits of a successful single currency."

Although the statement did not go further than the Government's policy, its upbeat tone on the euro will please pro-Europeans. It has been endorsed by the four political leaders of the campaign; Mr Blair, the Tory heavyweights Kenneth Clarke and Michael Heseltine, and Charles Ken-nedy, the new leader of the Liberal Democrats.

Mr Blair said yesterday: "The political and economic case for positive engagement for Britain in Europe is overwhelming. I want British businessmen and women and believers in Britain In Europe of all political persuasions to make the case with me. This is a time to put narrow party advantage to one side." Mr Clarke and Mr Heseltine will share a platform with Mr Blair when Britain In Europe is launched next month, in a move that will anger Tory Eurosceptics.

Mr Clarke said: "Tony Blair and I share the view that Britain has gained enormously from our membership of the EU."

The Britain In Europe statement also said: "We seek to ensure the British people reject the views of anti-Europeans who would undermine Britain's position in the EU ... Britain's national interest is best served as a strong and influential member of the EU."