Hurd backs EMU referendum

The prospect of a Tory manifesto pledge to hold a referendum on joining a single currency drew closer yesterday as the idea received firm support from Douglas Hurd, one of John Major's closest Cabinet allies.

"I do see arguments for a referendum on this subject if the British Government came to the conclusion that a single currency was in the national interest ... there is a case for it," the Foreign Secretary said.

He added in evidence to the Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee, repeating the point later in yesterday's Commons European Union debate: "The Prime Minister has made it clear in several public statements that he doesn't rule that out."

Mr Hurd said the arguments for and against a referendum cut across the arguments for and against a single currency. A Foreign Office source emphasised that the issue was ultimately one for the Prime Minister. But Mr Hurd's statement comes amid mounting expectation that Mr Major will promise a referendum, possibly at this autumn's party conference - and that the pledge will be incorporated into the manifesto for the next election.

Mr Hurd went out of his way to deny a newspaper report that he had told a private backbench committee on Tuesday night that "the Prime Minister thinks a referendum would please almost everyone in the party and the country", insisting he "did not put words into the Prime Minister's mouth".

But the Foreign Secretary will play a key role in drawing up the sections of the manifesto dealing with Europe.

A referendum pledge could help Mr Major unite his fractious party to the extent of seeing off an autumn leadership challenge, and would please many on the Tory right. But Mr Hurd signalled a fresh determination not to give in to right-wing demands for Mr Major to rule out joining a single currency in the lifetime of the next Parliament.

Addressing the committee in advance of the twice-yearly EU summit in Cannes on Monday, Mr Hurd called Britain's opt-out a "remarkedly advantageous" negotiating position: "A position in which we do have a say in the preparations but are not committed to the outcome, seems to me to be an admirable position."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: Intervention Teacher Required To Start ASAP.

£125 - £150 per day + Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: A 'wonderful primary ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Maths Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Our client is an 11-16 mixed commun...

Recruitment Genius: PHP / Drupal / SaaS Developer

£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly developing company in...

Ashdown Group: Application Architect/Developer - Peterborough

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Application Architect/Developer - Peterborough, Cam...

Day In a Page

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy