Monday, June 9, 2003

British treasury chief backs euro

The Associated Press

LONDON - Britain's Treasury chief said Sunday he favors joining the European single currency in principle and suggested he will try to rally skeptical Britons behind the euro.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown is widely expected to announce Monday that the economic conditions are not yet right for Britain to join the 12-nation euro zone and swap its pounds and pence for euro notes and coins.

But he told the British Broadcasting Corp. he would campaign for Europe and the "principle of the euro" after delivering his verdict, in a bid to "sweep aside anti-European prejudice" in Britain.

"In principle I want to join the single currency, but in practical terms we have got to make sure that the conditions are right," said Brown, who is expected to tell the House of Commons Monday that five economic tests he set in 1997 have not yet been met. "(Prime Minister) Tony Blair and I have decided and the Cabinet agreed on Thursday that after the statement we should put the pro-European case and sweep aside anti-European prejudice."

A majority of Britons say they would vote against joining the single currency in a referendum.

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