- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 3, 2001

British Prime Minister Tony Blair said yesterday that Britain should expect a referendum on commiting to the euro, the currency of the European Union, during the term of the current Parliament if economic conditions are right.
"We should only be part of the single currency if the economic conditions are met," Mr. Blair said during the keynote speech of the Labor Party conference held in the British seaside town of Brighton. "But if they are met, we should join and, if met in this Parliament, we should have the courage of our argument to ask the British people for their consent in this Parliament."
Britain, a member of the European Union, has traditionally expressed ambivalence about fully committing to the European currency. There are deep veins of opposition within the newspaper and political establishment where some argue that replacing the British pound with the euro would surrender British autonomy.
Mr. Blair, an avowed euro supporter, came to power in a 1997 landslide election and held his large parliamentary majority after voting last June.
Although Mr. Blair has frequently spoken about plans for a popular referendum on Britain's commitment to the euro, he has delayed bringing the matter to a vote.
Some of Mr. Blair's ministers have argued that, in the wake of the terrorists attacks of Sept. 11, he should now ride the wave of greater international cooperation and bring the question of the euro to a referendum.
Charles Clarke, the Labor Party chairman, reportedly said the political case for joining the euro had been made "stronger" by the new world climate.


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