Clarke: EU referendum must include vote on currency

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Charles Clarke, the Cabinet's leading pro-European, is privately urging Tony Blair to hold two referendums at once to settle Britain's EU future.

Charles Clarke, the Cabinet's leading pro-European, is privately urging Tony Blair to hold two referendums at once to settle Britain's EU future.

Mr Clarke wants a question on whether Britain should adopt the euro to accompany the question of whether the UK should ratify the proposed EU constitution.

Mr Clarke also wants a new Minister for Europe, with cabinet rank, to be appointed, the IoS has learnt.

The idea of a "two-question" referendum is being openly backed by pro-EU Labour MPs, including the former Europe minister Keith Vaz, and Chris Bryant, a prominent member of Britain in Europe. The issue was raised at a private meeting with Mr Blair last week, but he rejected it, at least for now. He warned it would undermine the careful policy set out by the Government nearly seven years ago, that a referendum on the euro would only be called once economic conditions were right.

Mr Blair is being urged by some of his staff to carry out a cabinet reshuffle directly after local and European elections on 10 June. While Ken Livingstone is expected to win in London, the Labour high command is bracing itself for bad results elsewhere, and want an early reshuffle to "draw a line" under the party's difficulties. Geoff Hoon, the Defence Secretary, is one candidate for the Minister for Europe role, along with the Trade and Industry Secretary, Patricia Hewitt. If election results are as bad as some fear, Mr Blair may want to move the party chairman, Ian McCartney.

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