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Blair confident on euro poll

Tony Blair
Blair says joining the euro is not essential  


LONDON,England -- UK Prime Minister Tony Blair says he is confident he can win the argument to take Britain into the European single currency.

He is expected to deliver a keynote speech on his Europe policy while on the election campaign trail in Edinburgh, Scotland, on Friday.

But he said in an interview in the Financial Times newspaper that joining the currency was not essential for the country to play a full role in the European Union.

The Labour Party leader has pledged to hold a referendum on adopting the euro if he wins a second term of office in a June 7 general election.

Asked if he believed he could persuade the public to approve the single currency in a referendum, Blair said: "Of course, provided we are setting out why it is economically and politically in Britain's interests.

Blair affirmed that his government had decided in principle that it was in Britain interest to join the euro, if economic conditions are right.

Conservative Party leader William Hague said voters had a better chance of rejecting the euro in this election than in a referendum.

"Clearly he (Blair) would if elected throw the entire weight of government into a referendum campaign to secure a vote for the euro," Hague said.

He added that the government would have the advantage of phrasing the referendum question, and spending rules would favour the pro-euro forces.

"That's why I say the actual referendum on the pound is this general election a week on Thursday," Hague told a news conference. "If the Conservatives win the election we will keep the pound and if the Labour Party win the pound is doomed."

Blair was expected to argue it was time to "re-define" the concept of patriotism and to attack the Tory approach as leaving Britain dangerously isolated.







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