Rayner argues for euro entry

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Indy Politics

Clare Rayner, the nation's agony aunt, will tomorrow urge pro-euro campaigners to woo older women if they want to win a referendum on the single currency.

In an article for a major pamphlet published by the Blairite Foreign Policy Centre, Winning the Euro Referendum, Ms Rayner says that the "Yes" lobby must avoid political rhetoric and gimmickry to win women round.

Poll evidence has shown that 27 per cent of women would vote in favour of the single currency, compared to 35 per cent of men. It also suggests that 68 per cent of Eurosceptic women are over 40.

But the Foreign Policy Centre believes hostility to the euro is "shallow" and that a referendum could be winnable.

The report out tomorrow outlines strategies from a number of influential contributors, including Simon Atkinson, the research director at MORI, Lord Haskins, chairman of Northern Foods and chair of the Better Regulation Taskforce and Chris Powell, the former head of advertising for the Labour Party.

Their advice that a referendum can be won is expected to add to pressure on the Government to take a stronger lead on the issue.

Last week Peter Hain, the Europe minister, argued in an interview with the left-wing newspaper Tribune that euro membership was "a logical step".

Some saw that as a signal that the campaign to sell the euro to Britain was about to escalate through the autumn. But Mr Hain was "closed down". No campaign is likely until the impact of the introduction of euro notes and coins on the continent has been assessed. Ministers hope British consumers will get used to the euro when they encounter it on holiday and discover that they can even spend it in major stores in the UK.

But there will be no significant gear change on the euro. There is no change to the Government's long-standing "prepare and decide" policy.

The pro-euro campaign, however, are stressing the need to tackle the problem of hostile public opinion.

Ms Rayner's article includes analysis about why women are sceptical about the euro, such as their position as the controller of family budgets. Many women are understood to be naturally conservative and feel they have a lot to lose through change.

It advises a "new language" to talk about Europe, explaining how it will affect women's everyday lives, practical examples that go beyond macroeconomics and debates on national sovereignty.

She also argues the need for "credible, plain-speaking women like Mo Mowlam" to lead the campaign through a range of media, including women's magazines and popular television programmes.

Ms Rayner is expected to say: "Instead of trying to persuade people things will get universally better, they need to develop balanced arguments setting out the case for and against. They must not try and gloss over the difficulties."

* British holidaymakers and business travellers have hoarded up to £120m in European currencies which will be replaced by the euro.

An opinion poll by Thomas Cook suggests that up to 27 million people have kept banknotes from the 12 currencies after trips to the continent.

Amid fears that they may have forgotten their stashes of old notes, Britain's high street banks and foreign exchange companies are to launch nationwide publicity campaigns to urge them to swap them before the euro comes into force.