Decision on euro must be based on economics, insists Brown

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Gordon Brown tried to reassert his grip on the debate over the single currency yesterday by insisting that the Treasury's economic assessment would determine whether Britain would join the euro.

But the Chancellor of the Exchequer was accused of breaking his careful show of unity with Tony Blair as he emphasised the primacy of the five economic tests, arguing they would be the "centrepiece" of the Government's decision.

Ministers will hold three-way meetings with Mr Blair and Mr Brown today after spending the weekend poring over the Treasury's vast assessment of the five tests. The report is thought to offer some encouragement to pro-euro ministers although Mr Brown is widely expected to deliver a "not yet" verdict when he announces the overall assessment on 9 June.

The Chancellor, interviewed on the BBC's Breakfast with Frost, said there would be no decision based on "dogma" and said he still favoured joining the euro "in principle", promising to campaign for a "yes" vote if the tests recommended entry.

But he stressed: "It will be the national economic interests that will be decisive." He said a referendum had not been ruled out before the next election and denied threatening to resign over the issue, saying that he and Mr Blair were united. He said: "We both say if the economics are right we should join, we should go ahead and have a referendum. If the economics are not right, in other words the five-tests assessment is not met, then we shouldn't do so. That is the position of both of us."

The Tories and Liberal Democrats said the Government was deeply split over the euro and called for the publication of the Treasury assessment. The Liberal Democrats' Treasury spokesman, Matthew Taylor, said Mr Brown's comments "made a mockery" of a cabinet debate.