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British exit from Europe is aim of Goldsmith

Two leading spokesmen for Sir James Goldsmith's Referendum Party made it clear yesterday that their aim was not just halting progress towards the single currency but also achieving Britain's withdrawal from the European Union. Addressing a small group of the party faithful in an underground hall in the City of London, Sir Alan Walters, formerly economic adviser to Baroness Thatcher, and Brian Reading, an economist who once worked for Sir Edward Heath, warned of the dangers that closer integration with the rest of Europe would bring.

Sir Alan, the party's parliamentary candidate in the City and Westminster, said: "My fear is that staying in Europe and joining the single currency would return us to the corporatism of the Seventies. The fact that big business is in favour is a powerful argument against the single currency."

He welcomed the fact that Martin Taylor, the chief executive of Barclays Bank, had recently come out against British membership of Emu for the forseeable future. "Barclays has woken up, but NatWest is still slumbering," he said.

Sir Alan, standing against a Euro-claret coloured background, reminded his mainly youthful and well-heeled audience about the bad old days of beer and sandwiches for union leaders at No 10 Downing Street. He added: "What would the single currency look like? It would look like Harold Wilson."

Mr Reading, standing as the Referendum candidate in Sir Edward Heath's seat of Old Bexley and Sidcup, warned that the single currency was only a means to the creation of a federal European super-state. "Why should so many supposedly clever people support such a dumb idea? Because they know it won't work," he said. He said Britain should withdraw from the European Union. "We don't need foreigners' money," he told his audience. He went on to suggest that Britain could play the same role that Mexico plays for the United States, a cheap base for business, even without a common currency.