Mandelson denies suggesting joining euro

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Indy Politics

The Business Secretary Peter Mandelson today denied that he was responsible for suggestions that the Government could consider taking Britain into the euro in the face of the economic downturn.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso caused a stir last week when he claimed that significant people in the UK were talking about abandoning the pound and signing up to the single currency.

However Lord Mandelson - who was the EU trade commissioner in Brussels until he rejoined the Government last October - dismissed claims that he had been behind the suggestion.

"I haven't had a discussion with Mr Barroso about this for years. I think I might have exchanged words when I first went to the Commission in 2004, but not since," he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

He said that while it was still the Government's long-term ambition to take Britain into the euro, now was not the right time.

"My view is that the Government is right to maintain the long-term policy objective of taking Britain into the euro, but it is not for now," he said on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

"We have enough challenges and difficulties on our hands steering the British economy through this global downturn without taking on the additional challenge and complexity of taking Britain into the single currency."