Euro poll and election 'not same day' - No 10

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Indy Politics

Downing Street was forced to state yesterday that it had no plans to hold a euro referendum on the same day as the next general election.

Sources said that Tony Blair had not changed his mind on the issue even though the new draft Single European Currency (Referendum) Bill gave ministers the option to stage a dual poll.

The clarification came after 24 hours of confusion over the Bill, during which Mr Blair's official spokesman said that the Government wanted "maximum flexibility" over the timing of the referendum.

But Downing Street did not rule out holding a euro poll on the same day as local elections, another possibility in the Bill's provision for "combined polls". The Prime Minister's official spokesman heightened speculation when he said that the Bill gave freedom over the timing of the referendum, although he warned pro- and anti-euro camps "not to read too much into this".

The Electoral Commission, which would oversee any referendum, announced last year that any move to combine a referendum with even local elections would cause "significant confusion" among voters. Yesterday, it repeated its concerns.