Single Currency: Bullish Blair denies softening line on Britain's currency plans

TONY BLAIR came out fighting for the pro-European cause yesterday and insisted that he had not watered down his plans to take Britain into the single currency.

In a keynote speech the Prime Minister insisted: "Britain should join a successful single currency, provided the economic conditions are met. It is conditional. It is not inevitable. Both intention and conditions are genuine."

Mr Blair told the London Business School that the Government's policy on the euro had not changed.

This was seen as a coded rebuke to aides of Gordon Brown, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who want to delay a referendum from 2001 to 2003 or 2004. Mr Blair said that Britain remaining engaged with Europe was "not weakness, or the beguiling embrace of European allies; it is stark reality, good old-fashioned British pragmatism that brings us there ... We need therefore to remain engaged at all times; to be building political alliances; to be shaping Europe's development, not continually have it shaped by others."

Following Labour's defeat in last month's Euro-elections, Mr Blair acknowledged that pro-Europeans needed to make the case for full EU participation to a new generation. He attacked the "anti-Europeanism" of the Tories, saying it was "lurching down an extremist path and contemplating a complete withdrawal from Europe". William Hague's policy of ruling out the single currency for this Parliament and the next was "a fatuous piece of fudge".

The Prime Minister pro-mised to lead the Britain In Europe group, the embryo "yes" campaign to be launched in the autumn, and appealed to politicians in all parties to back it.

Mr Blair's speech was welcomed last night by pro-Europeans. In a letter to The Independent a cross-party group of 25 Europhiles, including Sir Edward Heath and Lord Howe, said the speech "paves the way for a historic change in Britain's attitude towards its relations with Europe".

They insisted the views of "an anti-European minority" who wanted to rule out British membership of the euro, and perhaps take Britain out of Europe, was rejected by the vast majority of people.

But Malcolm Bruce, the Liberal Democrats' Treasury spokesman, said the Government's position was "unclear and ambiguous".

Labour's National Executive Committee called for Euro elections to take place on the same day as local elections, and admitted that the "closed list" PR system had alienated the party's activists and voters.

peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Fans hold up a scarf at West Ham vs Liverpool
footballAfter Arsenal's clear victory, focus turns to West Ham vs Liverpool
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
New Articles
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
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

Cover Supervisor

£75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam