Wenger to campaign for the euro

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The Independent Online
THE ARSENAL manager Arsene Wenger has been recruited to play a high-profile part in the campaign for Britain to join the European single currency.

Although French, Wenger has agreed to work with Britain in Europe, the group set up by the Labour peer Lord Hollick, to promote the euro in the run-up to a referendum on British entry. One of his first acts on joining Arsenal was authorising the payment of his many foreign players in euros.

The recruitment of Wenger is part of a concerted effort to tackle Euroscepticism amongst Labour's traditional working-class supporters. Pro-Europeans have become increasingly concerned by polls showing that opposition to the single currency is strongest among blue-collar workers.

The Britain in Europe board aims to win over more "working class heroes" to work alongside senior business figures, including Lord Marshall, the chairman of British Airways, who heads Britain in Europe. Sir Alex Ferguson, the Manchester United manager who recently backed Labour in the run-up to the European elections, is the prime target.

However, Britain in Europe is becoming increasingly divided over the way the campaign should be run. Insiders say this week's meeting of the Board will be dominated by furious rows over when the group should formally launch its campaign.

Michael Heseltine and Kenneth Clarke are threatening to pull out unless Tony Blair is on the platform. Some members of the board want to delay the launch until the autumn in an attempt to smooth over the differences. However, others are insisting that the event should go ahead as planned on 9 July.

"If Clarke and Hezza don't want to get involved, they can get lost," said one senior Labour member.