'Hitler' jibe on UK campaign trail
LONDON, England -- The issue of Europe has been controversially thrust into centre stage of the UK election campaign after a senior Conservative compared German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder's vision of Europe to Adolf Hitler's.
The opposition Conservative leader William Hague quickly distanced himself from remarks made by Sir Peter Tapsell, who nominated Hague for the Tory leadership.
Tapsell also said Britain should never join the single European currency.
Schroder caused consternation among anti-Europeans when he recently approved his party's proposals for a European government.
Hague's party is fighting the general election -- set for June 7 - on a platform that includes saving the pound and protecting Britain's independence.
Tapsell's comments apparently came in an election address to his Louth and Horncastle constituency.
"We may not have studied Hitler's Mein Kampf in time but, by heaven, there is no excuse for us not studying the Schroder plan now," he reportedly said.
"You may be sure that the currency section of Dr Goebbels' Guide to Falsehood is already well thumbed by the Labour spin doctors."
He also compared Labour's tactics on the issue to those of the Nazis and predicted an "explosion of rage" from the British people over the issue, The Times newspaper said.
A Conservative spokesman said: "There is nothing new in this. Peter Tapsell has been saying this to anyone who would listen in the House of Commons and elsewhere for more than 20 years.
"His views are his own and are not shared by the Conservative Party leadership."
But Labour Chancellor Gordon Brown challenged the Tory leader to reign in Tapsell.
Speaking at the party's London headquarters, Brown said: "This is an issue of leadership.
"The Tories are divided on the single currency between those who would rule it out only for a parliament and those who would rule it out forever.
"And the extreme statements of Sir Peter Tapsell are now a test of William Hague's leadership, a test of whether he can bring himself to make clear to all candidates the kind of language used by Sir Peter Tapsell should have no place in British politics."
Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy said a "Parliamentarian of very considerable experience" should know better than to compare a democratically elected leader to Hitler.
"That is abysmal talk and I hope William Hague will disown it completely," he told the BBC.
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