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Last Updated: Sunday, 28 September, 2003, 10:13 GMT 11:13 UK
Blair won't rule out euro vote
Tony Blair
Blair: "We should keep the option open"
Prime Minister Tony Blair has refused to rule out a referendum on the UK joining the euro before a general election, expected in 2005.

Sweden's decision earlier this month to reject euro membership would not influence the UK, he told the BBC's Breakfast with Frost programme.

Mr Blair said: "We should keep the option open.

"Let us as a country decide when we want to exercise that option.

"I don't see any point, irrespective of what happens in Sweden, of ruling anything out. Let's keep our options open. That's what we'll do."

The comments came ahead of the Labour Party's annual conference in Bournemouth.

Mr Blair has long been a supporter of euro membership, as long as conditions for joining are right, and has pledged that their will be a referendum on the issue as soon as they are.

But in June, Chancellor Gordon Brown announced that only one of the government's five tests for euro entry had so far been passed.


He will decide in his next Budget whether circumstances have changed enough to justify re-running the tests.

But after Swedish voters rejected the euro in a referendum two weeks ago, pro and anti-euro campaigners in the UK believe the chances of a vote before the next election have all but disappeared.

Coupled with the prime minister's waning popularity - as a result of the war in Iraq and subsequent Hutton inquiry - many analysts also claim he is unlikely to risk an uphill campaign to win over sceptical Britons to the merits of euro membership.

The news comes soon after the BBC learned that Simon Buckby director of pro-euro campaign group Britain in Europe is likely to step down after the organisation is restructured.

Mr Buckby is understood to be frustrated at the government's failure to pursue a coherent policy on the euro.

He told BBC News 24 that he would consider his future in the post after his organisation had been restructured in the light of delays in holding a referendum.

Sweden, Britain and Denmark remain outside the euro zone.

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