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|Kinnock: Euro Referendum is on Hold|
- Ex-Labour leader reveals party thinking on currency
BRITISH people will not face a referendum on whether to join the euro currency this year.
That, at least, is the view of European Commissioner Neil Kinnock, former leader of Britain's ruling Labour Party and still close to Prime Minister Tony Blair.
"There isn't enough time this year, but next year is a possibility," Kinnock said. "You don't have a referendum unless you think you are going to win it. It just doesn't happen."
Commentators had believed that if Blair didn't call a referendum this year, he would have to wait until after the next election to do so. But Kinnock disagrees, arguing that the recent practice of holding general elections every four years could be dropped in favour of making the current parliament a five year one.
That would mean no general election until 2006, which would leave both 2004 and 2005 as possible candidates for a euro referendum.
Opinion polls have shown British people to be strongly opposed to joining the European currency, but its backers in government hope that the more people use the euro on trips abroad, the more they will get used to the idea of Britain joining up.