Tycoon plans anti-euro campaign
Wednesday 26 August 1998
Mr Sykes has vowed to "use every means possible" in a one-man crusade to persuade the public to vote "No" in a referendum on the euro. The former Tory parliamentary candidate, who is worth pounds 250m, will mastermind a nationwide publicity blitz that is likely to dwarf any positive propaganda for the single currency.
Taking on the mantle left behind by the late Sir James Goldsmith and his now defunct Referendum Party, Mr Sykes will use newspapers, posters and the Internet to warn of what he says are the dangers of monetary union. To beat broadcasting restrictions he plans to send campaign videos to groups and individuals.
The campaign will begin on 1 January next year, the starting date for the single currency across Europe, and will last "as long as it takes".
With the Government committed to a referendum in the next Parliament if it decides to join European monetary union, the Sykes campaign could stretch for at least four years, costing millions, although he declines to give a specific figure.
The campaign is reportedly being planned with "military precision" and was sparked by polls commissioned by Mr Sykes that found that 93 per cent of the British public wanted more information about the euro.
Echoing the presidential campaign in the United States of the billionaire Ross Perot, Mr Sykes will use his personal fortune to fund the campaign and has prepared a network of supporters across the country to spread the message.
"I'm going to do everything I can to stop this and I will raise hellfire to get the message across. I owe that to the British people. There is no point in being a rich man if you've lost your nation," he said.
Mr Sykes, who made his fortune from computers and property, will detail his plans next month to guarantee maximum impact ahead of all the party conferences.
He is understood to have lined up senior economists from every one of the 15 European Union nations to argue the case against the euro, as well as MEPs from the Continent who admit that its adoption will mean a federal United States of Europe.
Other big American names are also part of the Sykes team. Mr Sykes denied that he was funding independent candidates to stand against Tory candidates in next year's European elections, and claimed that the single currency issue was much more important to him. "There never has been a country that doesn't have its own currency. I believe the time has come for the British people to be made aware of the disaster that the euro would be," he said.
"We are all geared up to go live on January 1, when we will press the button and the campaign will start. We're going to use every means possible to get our message across. We will use the media, the Internet, everything.
"I want to make clear that we are not a party. We will be looking to spread information, factual information that we believe the people have a right to know."
The tycoon said that he had given up on party politics, but was determined to ensure that every voter knew the implications of joining the single currency. "I'm still a Conservative, but the Conservative Party is no longer a conservative party," Mr Sykes said.
"This is about telling the man in the street what is going on. The only vote that the people have got is in this referendum. You are either for it or against it, it's as simple as that.
"We are all worried about losing British jobs, but with the euro you are in for dynamite. Miners in Barnsley and steelworkers in Sheffield can't be expected to up sticks and move to Spain. But that's what the single currency is all about. I have got to oppose this ever-creeping federalism."
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