3 October 2001, 12:52  UK treasury says nothing new in Blair's comments on euro entry

LONDON (AFX) - A treasury spokesman said Prime Minister Tony Blair's comments yesterday on the UK's euro entry prospects -- widely interpreted as his firmest commitment yet on membership -- contain nothing new. "It's just a statement of the existing policy that the five economic tests must be met before a referendum can be called," the spokesman said. He said the interpretation by commentators and the media is exaggerated, adding that Blair was not signalling a change in policy. The prime minister told the Labour Party conference that the UK should join the euro if the government's five economic tests are met during the current parliamentary term. "They are fundamental," he said. "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." Blair's comments have been interpreted as a signal that he would be prepared to take on Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown and brave a sceptical British public over euro entry. The chancellor is seen as reluctant to proceed with a referendum this term.

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