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Section 6: Britain's Referendum Campaign over the Euro

Pre-reading questions:

1. Do you remember when the Euro was introduced?

2. Is it used only for clearing purposes?

3. Do any European countries use it in cash transactions now?

4. Has the UK joined this system by now?

5. Was the European Union created on the basis of the European Community?

6. When was the Community set up and when did the UK join the Community?

7. Is the UK a member of the European Union?

Skim and scan: Read the text quickly and say when approximately this article could be written.


This week the European Movement, Britain's oldest and most important pro-European lobby group, published a glossy document laying out a strategy for a referendum on British membership of the single European currency. The government merely says that it is willing to sign Britain up for the Euro when it becomes convinced that such a move would be in Britain's economic benefit.

But unofficially the pro-Europeans in the government are working to a much more definite timetable. They are assuming that a referendum will be called soon after a second election victory for Labour – an event already pencilled in for 2001. At that point the full weight of government will be behind the Yes campaign.

The European Movement has already set up a steering group to coordinate the referendum campaign, with good connections to 10 Downing Street. Representatives of the London office of the European Commission which provides a bit of money for the European Movement have been spotted at the planning sessions.

The movement's planning document says that the Yes campaign now needs to establish before the next general election 'a majority of the public who favour British participation'. That's a tall order, since currently a large majority is opposed.

Next month, the Treasury gets in on an act by launching an advertising campaign designed to tell Britons about the launch of the single European currency in 1999. Officially this is simply a 'familiarisation' exercise. But people involved with the campaign acknowledge that it contains an element of 'political education'. Others might call it propaganda.

The Noes campaign has also begun to get serious. There is no shortage of anti-European groups – 29 at the last count. Since the beginning of the year, a series of six lunches in the Attlee room of the House of Lords has gathered together all the principal «antis» from across the political spectrum to thrash out a plan of action. Out of this has grown support for Business for Sterling (BFS), which was officially launched on June 11th, 1998.

The aim of BFS is to attract serious money from businessmen and companies. BFS will put only the economic arguments against the single currency, and ignore politics. BFS already has the financial backing of several big businessmen such as Sir Stanley Kalms, the Chairman of Dixons. The new director of communications at BFS is from that electronic retailer, and they have already had 200 pledges of support.


Vocabulary notes


  glossy   блестящий, глянцевитый, лоснящийся
  to sign up for smth   1) нанимать (ся) на работу, под писать контракт на выполнение какой-либо работы; 2) зарегистрироваться для получения пособия по безработице
  to steer   1) управлять, направлять, руководить; 2) следовать,
      идти (по определенному курсу)
  to spot   увидеть, узнать, опознать, определять
  a tall order   невероятный/чрезмерный заказ
  a tall story   небылица
  to launch [lo: ntS] начинать, пускать в ход, вести
  to launch a campaign   начинать компанию
  to familiarise [f@'mIlj@raIz] знакомить, ознакомлять
to familiarise oneself   освоиться, ознакомиться с чем-либо  
with smth      
shortage ['So: tI³ ] нехватка, недостаток, дефицит  
to thrash out/over smth   тщательно обсуждать, выяснять, прорабатывать  
retailer   розничный торговец, лавочник, фирма, занимающаяся розничной торговлей  
pledge   (публичное) обещание  


Suggested activities


a Explain the meaning of the following in English:


• a lobby group • a steering group • pro-European • the Yes campaign • the Noes campaign • BFS

b Summarise the different viewpoints on Britain's membership in the Euro (your answers to the following questions will help you):

The European Movement

1 Is it a British group?

2 Does it support or oppose Britain's membership in the Euro?

3 Why do you think the author called the Movement's strategic document «glossy»?

4 What referendum did it propose?

5 For what purpose did it set up a steering group?

6 Where does their money come from, judging by the article?

7 Is it heading the Yes campaign?

The citizens of the UK

1 Do most people of the UK support or oppose the British membership in the Euro, according to the article?

The British Government

1 Does the Government comprise the House of Commons, the Cabinet of Ministers and the Prime Minister?

2 What signing-up did the government declare?

3 For what time are the pro-Europeans in the Government planning to hold the referendum?

4 Are they optimistic, judging by the author's appraisal?

5 When did the Treasury plan to join the single European currency?

6 Who called their advertising campaign «a familiarisation exercise», «political education», «propaganda»?

The House of Lords

1 Is it a part of the British Government? .

2 Is there any hint in the article about the attitude of the House of Lords to the British membership in the


3 Do the 29 groups mentioned in the article support the Yes or Noes campaign?

4 What is the BFS campaign? When did it start?

5 Does Big Business support it?


с Draw a table showing who supported the Yes campaign and the Noes campaign at the time the article was published. The table may look like this:



d Have another look at the diagram given below the text and answer the following questions:



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