European Elections: Major falls back on Thatcher's dud poll slogan

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Indy Politics
JOHN MAJOR will appeal to voters in the European elections using the same slogan on which Baroness Thatcher crashed to defeat five years ago. The Prime Minister's mailshot to thousands of voters and the Tory European manifesto to be launched today will open the Conservatives to the charge of running a negative campaign.

Both the manifesto and Mr Major's mailshot to key voters use the slogan 'A strong Britain in a strong Europe', the slogan for Lady Thatcher's disastrous campaign in 1989, when the Tories lost 13 of their 45 seats in a defeat which spelt the beginning of the end for her leadership.

Mr Major, facing a similar threat as the three main parties launch their the European manifestos, warns people that if they vote Labour or Liberal Democrat 'you will be saying you are in favour of a United States of Europe. That you want more powers to pass to Brussels. That you want Britain to lose her freedom to decide her own taxation policy, planning policy, even foreign policy. That you are in favour of a single currency and at a time of others' choosing, not ours.'

Douglas Hurd, the Foreign Secretary, attempted to steer a middle course yesterday. Denying the Tories were mounting a Euro-sceptic campaign, he said on the BBC On the Record programme that Michael Portillo, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, had been brought into line with the Cabinet on a single currency after breaking ranks and rejecting it.

The Liberal Democrat manifesto, published a day early yesterday, pledges to 'move in step with Britain's European partners towards the Maastricht goal of a single currency'. It supports independence for the Bank of England in setting interest rates and keeping inflation low, 'prior to the establishment of an independent European Central Bank'.

The Liberal Democrats say they want a 'decentralised' Europe and say that if any fundamental constitutional changes emerge from the 1996 inter-governmental conference, 'it would be appropriate to seek popular assent for them'. Party sources said that could be done either by a referendum or the next general election.