The Government sent a strong signal that it is preparing to take on Eurosceptics in a push to persuade voters of the merits of the single currency.
Peter Hain, the minister for Europe, predicted that the "practical Europeans" would win "hands down" any argument over Britain's place in Europe. Speaking at the London School of Economics, he said: "We support Britain's active engagement in the European Union, because that is the best way to deliver the practical benefits the British people want – more jobs, greater prosperity, safer streets, cleaner skies.
"We relish debate about Europe, conducted in the plainest terms – about the treaties, about the policies, about anything. Because whenever we have that debate the practical Europeans will win it hands down."
The former cabinet minister Peter Mandelson admitted that supporters of the single currency would have to overturn public opinion to win a referendum. But he added: "I believe that referendum can and will be won for British entry to the single currency." Asked about the timing, he replied: "It could be in this parliament, if economically feasible."Reuse content