Europe links are useful, says Brown

Gordon Brown attempted to reassert his pro-European credentials yesterday by saying that Britain was linked to the rest of Europe by history, geography and economics.

In an article in The Wall Street Journal Europe, he said the Government could "build a wider, pro-European consensus in Britain; a one-nation consensus in support of a reforming, more flexible and outward-looking Europe as the continent equips itself to succeed in the global economy".

His comments, made as cabinet members prepared to receive the Treasury's assessment of the five economic tests for euro membership, appeared designed to soothe pro-European fears amid reports that the tests would produce a "not yet" verdict.

Yesterday, Tony Blair ruled out holding a referendum on euro entry at the same time as the general election. He said he had never thought of holding both on the same day, but added that the decision on joining the euro was a fundamental change that required the approval of the people.

Mr Brown wrote in his article: "Britain is linked to Europe by history, by geography and by economics. And with over 50 per cent of our trade with the EU, a high-growth, job-creating, flexible and outward-looking Europe that sees the US as partners in the global economy is clearly in Britain's, just as it is in Europe's, long-term interests ..."

"In Britain there are those who would urge us to join, irrespective of the five economic tests, the impact on jobs, investment, growth, financial services and other sectors of our economy ... Others say we should rule out joining as a matter of dogma, even if it were clearly and unambiguously in the national economic interest to do so."