Tories' war on euro hots up

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The Independent Online
WILLIAM HAGUE is planning to bring forward a Tory Party referendum on the single European currency to counter attacks by Michael Heseltine and Kenneth Clarke on his policy of ruling out membership of the euro.

Tory party leadership sources said last night that if the former deputy Prime Minister and the former Chancellor launched their crusade against his policy, they would bring forward the referendum to ``to lance the boil''.

Mr Hague has promised the party a referendum on the euro, but has so far refused to say when it would be carried out. He will be accused by the Government of panicking, if he calls one now in the face of the challenge by Mr Heseltine and Mr Clarke.

The clash promises to get Mr Hague bogged down in the issue again, when many Tories believe they should be attacking the Government on the economy, jobs, interest rate cuts and concern about rising indirect taxation.

Mr Heseltine and Mr Clarke are planning to appear on the first day of the Tory Party conference in Bournemouth on a pro-European platform for the Tory Mainstream group, a umbrella organisation for euro-enthusiasts.

"No decision has been taken. It will depend on how much trouble the Heseltine faction cause in Bournemouth,'' said a Tory source.

The leadership believes that a referendum which backed Mr Hague's policy would silence the euro-enthusiasts, but they are protesting that so far, there has been no proper debate within the party about Mr Hague's policy.

Mr Clarke said in a recent interview in The Independent that Mr Hague was carrying out a "listening exercise'' on everything but his policy on the euro.