UK Politics

Lord Heseltine predicts UK will join the euro

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Media captionLord Heseltine offered BBC 2's Daily Politics show his thoughts on the euro

The UK will end up scrapping the pound and adopting the euro, former Conservative cabinet minister Michael - now Lord - Heseltine has predicted.

Lord Heseltine told the BBC it was a personal view, and predicted it would not happen "in the foreseeable future".

But he said the UK had a history of resisting European integration "at every stage" before "giving in".

He also rejected the notion that pro-European voices in the Conservative Party had "lost the argument".

The former Deputy Prime Minister was speaking to BBC2's Daily Politics programme about the UK's relations with Europe, alongside UKIP MP Douglas Carswell, who defected from the Conservatives.

'Authentic integrationist voice'

Lord Heseltine said he and other Europhile colleagues did not publicly made the case for Europe because "we are torn between loyalty to the party and our own very deep convictions".

But he said every Conservative Party leader he had worked for had "argued passionately" for closer involvement in Europe, "not because they want to surrender sovereignty but because they want to influence from Britain's point of view what is happening in Europe".

And he added: "We will join the euro... it is a very personal view that the establishment party wouldn't agree with.

"If I had to parade my conviction, I have lived through every one of these European arguments where we have resisted at every stage the European direction - and at every stage we have at the end given in and joined."

Image caption Lord Heseltine and Mr Carswell argued over immigration and the future of UKIP

Lord Heseltine said the real issue facing the UK was whether it wanted Germany to have "hegemony over Europe to our exclusion", adding: "I don't."

Mr Carswell - who became UKIP's first elected MP in October - claimed Lord Heseltine's views reflected the "authentic [European] integrationist voice of the Conservative Party establishment".

Mr Carswell said one of the reasons for his defection to UKIP was the Conservative Party being "on the wrong side of the Europe question for 40 years".

'Real change'

David Cameron has promised an in/out referendum on British membership of the European Union in 2017 if he is prime minister after next year's election.

He wants to renegotiate the terms of Britain's membership before putting it to a public vote.

Mr Carswell said the British public wanted to leave the EU and maintain free trade agreements, which is "perfectly do-able", citing Switzerland and Australia as examples.

Lord Heseltine claimed UKIP support was based on immigration and the recession rather than its position on Europe, and predicted that the party would not survive in the long term.

But Mr Carswell contended that UKIP had topped the poll at the European elections in May, and "convincingly" won two by-elections to Parliament. People wanted "real change", he argued.

Mark Reckless became UKIP's second elected MP in November when he won the Rochester and Strood by-election promoted by his defection from the Conservatives.

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