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Blair Says Brits Won’t Join Euro Now

June 20, 1999

LONDON (AP) _ British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Sunday that it would be ``daft″ for Britain to join the European single currency now.

``On the single currency there are three positions, two of which in my view are daft,″ he told British Broadcasting Corp. radio from the Group of Seven summit in Cologne, Germany.

``I am not arguing that Britain should join the single currency today, the economic conditions are not right,″ he said.

Blair also criticized the opposition Conservative Party’s stance that Britain should remain out of the single currency, launched by 11 European Union countries on Jan. 1, for at least a decade.

Blair told the BBC that his government’s wait-and-see approach is the ``sensible position.″ The Labor government has said that if the economic conditions are right, it will call a referendum, probably in 2004, on whether to abandon the pound for the euro.

Blair already has announced a changeover plan to prepare government departments and British businesses for working in the euro.

But this month’s European elections showed a definite lack of support for the euro within Britain. The Conservative Party turned the elections into a mini-referendum on the single currency, and came out topping the national poll. The Tories hailed their victory as a sign that most Britons remain wary of the euro, which continues to slide in the foreign exchange markets.

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