Tories accused of meddling in Danish euro referendum

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The Tory party was accused of "meddling" in Danish politics yesterday after it was revealed that one of its MEPs would address a right-wing party in Denmark ahead of the country's euro referendum next month.

The Tory party was accused of "meddling" in Danish politics yesterday after it was revealed that one of its MEPs would address a right-wing party in Denmark ahead of the country's euro referendum next month.

Daniel Hannan, Tory MEP for South-east England, has agreed to deliver a speech to the Danish People's Party conference in the town of Vejle, Jutland in early September, The Independent has learned. The Danish party confirmed yesterday that Mr Hannan, a leading Eurosceptic, will attend its annual conference to outline the case against the euro.

The country will vote on 28 September on whether to join the single currency and latest polls suggest the "Yes" and "No" campaigns are running neck and neck.

Both pro-European Tories and Robin Cook, the Foreign Secretary, attacked Mr Hannan's decision to address the rally and called on William Hague to distance himself from the activities of "extreme Eurosceptics" in his party.

Ian Taylor, Conservative MP for Esher and Walton, said: "The Conservative party should distance itself from these efforts. Mr Hannan professes to believe in national sovereignty, so his interference in Denmark runs totally contrary to his own views."

Soern Espersen, spokesman for the Danish People's Party, said Mr Hannan would be a guest speaker at its conference on 2-3 September. The conference will be shown on Danish television. "Daniel Hannan is coming. He wants to tell the Danes how important it is that we and the British vote 'No'," he said. "The vote is going to be very close and we need all the help we can get."

But Mr Cook said last night that hardline Tory anti-Europeans were trying to "exploit the situation in Denmark" to further their own agenda of disengagement from Europe. Mr Hannan's decision would break the long-held convention of keeping out of other countries' domestic politics, he said.

"If they really cared about Denmark they would leave Danish people alone to make their own decision instead of meddling in another country's affairs. William Hague should now stand up to the extreme Eurosceptics in his own party and make it clear that their activities are unacceptable."

Mr Hannan has already attracted criticism for his involvement in a campaign by British Eurosceptics to place full-page advertisements in the Danish press during the referendum campaign. The adverts, which are expected to appear in the next few weeks, will reassure Danish voters that they need not fear isolation in Europe if they vote "No".

Mr Hannan's office said he was in Russia and unavailable for comment.

Angela Browning, the Tory Trade and Industry spokeswoman, visited Copenhagen in February to address a "No" rally and advised her counterparts to change their slogan from "No" to "Keep the Kroner".

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