Murdoch drops in on friends at Number 10

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Rupert Murdoch, chairman and chief executive of The News Corporation, visited Downing Street last night amid a campaign by his pro-Labour newspapers to persuade the Government not to opt for an early referendum on the single currency.

Mr Murdoch's newspaper empire supported Labour at last week's general election. But the national newspapers have warned Mr Blair that they will mount strong opposition if he calls a referendum on the euro.

Mr Murdoch spent about 30 minutes inside Number 10. Downing Street refused to discuss the purpose of his visit or say whether he had met the Prime Minister.

At a previous meeting, Mr Blair is believed to have promised Mr Murdoch that he would not call a snap referendum after the election in return for the highly valued backing of The Sun, which switched from the Tories to Labour in 1997.