Redwood's message to America

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The Independent Online
John Redwood yesterday raised the Euro-sceptic banner in New York, but said he wanted to "sing from the same hymn sheet" as John Major.

Mr Redwood disclosed that when news first surfaced that the Paymaster General, David Heathcoat-Amory, was to resign, he telephoned Downing Street to offer help in addressing the media.

"I rang them to ask if the there was a political issue that they would like to get across," he said. "But they said there wasn't, and that was that".

He denied he was preparing to produce an alternative Redwood manifesto - fuelling speculation that he was "leaned on" by Tory Central Office - but the former leadership challenger confirmed he would be pressing for Mr Major to adopt a more right-wing agenda for the general election on taxation, local government, and Europe.

In a pamphlet to be published before the annual Tory Party conference, Mr Redwood is expected to call on the Chancellor to limit income tax cuts to 1p, and abolish VAT on fuel, to restore the Tories' tax-cutting image before the election.

His principal preoccupation yesterday, however, seemed to be to portray to Republicans his own negative views on further European integration.

"I don't want to use America against Europe; I am committed to Europe. What we're arguing about is what kind of Europe we want to live in. While it is America's interest for the European countries to trade together as one, it would not be in America's interests for it to become a superstate governed by Brussels ... which would include countries that may not share the same common Anglo-Saxon interests."

At the start of a nine-day US tour, taking in television interviews by Henry Kissinger and Steve Forbes, the Republican primary candidate, Mr Redwood had to react to reports that he was developing a rival manifesto that risked splitting the Tory party before the general election, expected to be held next spring.

"We've always said that I'm generating ideas for the manifesto," he said, "but that is different from coming up with a rival product."

Mr Redwood, who left the Government after unsuccessfully challenging Mr Major for the Conservative Party leadership last year, added: "I don't wish to issue an alternative manifesto, because people would then have a choice between them and that would indeed split the party."

However, the former minister expressed his hope that his ideas, notably on cutting public spending to allow a further drop in taxation, would find a place in the election platform.

Mr Redwood added that he would also suggest giving additional powers to local government. "I want to see us on the move again as a local Conservative Party as well as a national Conservative Party," he said.

He will be visiting New York City, Washington DC and Dallas, Texas.