OPINION: Winning the euro PR war won't be an easy Štask.

Scottish Secretary Helen Liddell is fondly known as 'Stalin's granny' in Labour circles. In the Treasury this week, she will have been called far worse names than that.

Liddell's speech in favour of the euro had more to do with saving her own skin in the Cabinet reshuffle than any firm views she has on the single currency, but it shows a deepening split on the issue at the heart of the Government. With the war won, Blair is now being told by his closest colleagues that the time is right to stamp on his Chancellor and go for a euro referendum.

The argument goes that, although he lost the PR battle prior to the Iraqi conflict, this didn't matter because he showed such firm leadership. The same could happen over the euro, the PM is being advised. All he has to do is overrule Gordon Brown, call a referendum, and the people will follow his lead. Blair will believe this nonsense at his peril.

We didn't vote on going to war, but on the euro, we will. The PR battle will therefore matter much more and, at the moment, there is no evidence that the British electorate is in a mood to join the euro. They will be even less likely to do so if someone of the stature of Brown opposes it.

This , however, is not stopping arch euro supporter Peter Mandelson stirring the pot. Last week, he got his friend running the Britain in Europe campaign, Simon Buckby, to say in public what he has been saying privately to Blair: 'Your place in history depends on you taking us into the euro.'

Others have been at it, too. John Reid, who learnt his trade with me in the Communist Party, certainly knows all about loyalty to his leader.

He has said that the euro decision is one for the Cabinet as a whole.

In other words, Brown can't make the decision for them. You always know when Number 10 is behind such outbursts, because we are reminded that the Prime Minister is actually the 'First Lord of the Treasury'. I remember Alastair Campbell reminding me of this on several occasions.

The Chancellor, though, won't give up without a fight. He has had his mates taking to the airwaves, too. Union boss Bill Morris went on the Today programme to draw the nation's attention to some obscure European Central Bank document that allegedly said Britain would have to cut public services if we entered the euro. I can't imagine that Morris stumbled across this document himself.

When all the political in-fighting is over, the only question that will remain is whether or not the British public will actually vote to ditch the pound. I bumped into a Blair loyalist MP last week and his view was clear: 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it.' That is the reason Brown is being so clear in his opposition to joining the euro just now. Despite what the press says, he isn't against the single currency, he just thinks that the British economy is better off outside it at the moment. Brown also knows that even with the full weight of Government support for the euro, winning the PR war will be almost impossible. The British people simply don't want to lose the pound, and politicians are the last people on earth they trust on the issue.

I can't believe that Tony Blair will push the euro issue with his Chancellor all the way. In 1997, when Labour was sorting out its euro policy and I briefed hacks on my mobile phone from the Red Lion pub in Westminster, Brown was forced to make a statement to the Commons. Number 10 suggested that, as the euro was so important, the Prime Minister should make the statement. Brown told them that if he did, Blair would be looking for a new chancellor. Blair can no more afford to loose Brown now than he could then.

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