Date set for euro decision

The announcement on whether the Government recommends Britain's entry into the euro will be made in the House of Commons on Monday June 9, Downing Street said today.

It will follow a special Cabinet session, held the previous week on June 5 or 6, where ministers will have their final discussion and reach a verdict.

That Cabinet meeting will follow a series of sessions between individual Cabinet members and Prime Minister Tony Blair with Chancellor Gordon Brown.

The Cabinet will have an initial discussion on the single currency at their meeting next Thursday, May 22.

Calls for clarity

Earlier today, both pro and anti-euro campaigners demanded clarity from the Government following reports that Tony Blair had agreed Britain would not yet join the single currency.

The Tories urged the Prime Minister to call a referendum to give the public the chance to decide, while ex-Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said business would suffer if ministers continued to delay.

The calls come after the BBC's political editor, Andrew Marr, reported yesterday that the Prime Minister had accepted Chancellor Gordon Brown's "core economic judgment" that the Government's five economic tests had not been met.

A Downing Street spokesman said: "Very few people know what is going on. Andrew Marr is not one of them.

"The Government has nothing to say on this topic until the economic assessment is published."

In his report on the 10 O'Clock News, Marr said the decision had been reached following "intense discussion" between Mr Blair and Mr Brown - who is noticeably cooler on the single currency - in recent days.

The report is in line with other recent media reports and will cause little surprise at Westminster.

However Marr, who gave no source for his story, said no decision had been reached on the crucial issue of whether to rule out membership for the rest of the Parliament.

Announcement soon

He said Mr Blair would still like to keep open the possibility that the issue could be put to the country in a referendum before the next General Election, whereas Mr Brown was less keen.

Mr Brown will announce the outcome of the Treasury's assessment of the five tests on June 9.

Although it has been expected for several weeks that Mr Brown would conclude that the conditions were not yet right for Britain to join, the report that he and the Prime Minister have come to an agreement in principle is likely to infuriate pro-euro ministers.

Cook calls for euro date

Former Foreign Secretary Robin Cook called on Mr Blair to set a firm date for Britain to join the euro, whether the tests were passed or not.

Mr Cook - who resigned as Leader of the Commons after falling out with the Prime Minister over Iraq - said he fully expected Mr Brown to judge that some of the tests had not been met.

But he told the BBC: "I would want a very clear commitment to say at the moment we have failed to meet one or one and a half of the tests, but we believe in principle - as is clearly the case - that the British economy will benefit from being inside the eurozone and we are therefore making a commitment to join and we are going to commit ourselves to a specific date.

"The Prime Minister has said that in principle we believe Britain would be better off inside the euro.

"We can't continue indefinitely to put off the moment when we should join it," he said.

"Our investment from the rest of the world has already halved as a share of European investment. We will go down even further if people think we are not serious about the euro."

Tory call for referendum

Shadow Home Secretary Oliver Letwin said today the Prime Minister should call a referendum on the euro to give the public the chance to decide.

Mr Letwin told BBC Breakfast that the Government was still divided on the issue and called for "clarity".

Asked if he wanted to see a referendum on both the new European constitution and the single currency, Mr Letwin said: "Yes. We are democrats.

"We would like the chance to have these things debated properly by the British public and by those who feel on either side passionately about them, because these are terribly important to our long-term future as a country and as an economy.

"We don't want to join the euro but we feel very strongly that we ought to know where we are going on all this.

"If we are going to have more years in which we are told there might or there might not be another test, we might or might not have a referendum, none of us is going to know whether we are coming or going.

"We really now ought to have clarity."

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