John Redwood returned yesterday to his opening theme, opposing the "abolition of the pound" in the single European currency, as he fought against accusations that his campaign had stalled.
At his morning news conference he tried to position himself as the candidate who could take on Tony Blair, the Labour leader, by the clarity of his stance on Europe. He said: "Our country is based on one currency, one parliament, a common language and one common law."
He warned that the real threat came from a Labour government which would "sleepwalk us into a federal union" and undermine the British constitution.
He distanced himself from the views of his campaign's heavyweight, former Chancellor Norman Lamont, who has said Britain should consider withdrawing from the European Union. But, asked if he was prepared to see all the other members go ahead with further political union without Britain, said: "Yes indeed."
Adopting a populist tone, he said: "Brussels should let some sleeping dogs lie, and learn that you cannot harmonise the dachshund and the English bulldog by cross-breeding. The differences are part of the fun of Europe, and give us more choice."
He challenged the Prime Minister to a television debate on Europe, and was turned down in a whimsical letter. John Major wrote: "I recall when I was a Tory candidate fighting a hopeless seat with no chance of winning, I was advised to challenge the incumbent MP to a debate. The gist of his reply was 'nice try, but no'. You may wish to know he went on to win a handsome victory."
Mr Redwood and his team tried to maintain the sense of momentum. David Evans, the MP for Welwyn Hatfield and his campaign manager, said the supporters of other candidates talking about a second ballot "are in cloud-cuckoo land - they're all talking about getting this man in and that man in, but next Tuesday is the day of the choice."
Mr Redwood claimed that government ministers were privately pledging support, but refused to name names or put figures on the level of defections, telling journalists: "I would not want to shock you by the extent of it."
He hinted at a top-level endorsement over the weekend, but the only new Tory MP to declare for him yesterday was Andrew Hargreaves (Birmingham Hall Green), although he has been associated with his campaign from the start.
So far Mr Redwood has attracted only one Tory MP, Sir Tom Arnold, who is not a hard-line Euro-sceptic rightwinger. Sir Tom, MP for ultra-marginal Hazel Grove, has a history of supporting the European Community. Mr Redwood did not rule out keeping leftwingers in his Cabinet: "I would choose a talented team from across the spectrum of the Conservative Party. I won't be picking them all from one clique or another," he said.
After their noise problems the Redwood team has begun operating from new rented offices at 78 Buckingham Gate, where a dozen telephone lines were installed late yesterday, along with computers, faxes and - because security is tight - several shredding machines.
By yesterday, 19 of the 329 Tory MPs had declared for John Redwood, with a further 7 publicly refusing to commit themselves to John Major.
Sir Tom Arnold
Don't know/Won't say
Sir Rhodes Boyson
Sir George Gardiner
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