Britain To Vote On Europe

-- Now that Norway has voted 52% to 48% against joining the European Union, pressure is building to give the British a say on whether to stay in. The government has resisted such a test, but now, Prime Minister John Major may yield. One possibility: a referendum on the next phase of European political and monetary union.

Why the about-face? Major's popularity is the lowest of his career. He trails the opposition Labor Party by 30 points in polls. Technically, he leads a minority government, having just excommunicated eight Euroskeptics from the Conservative Party for failing to back his bill upping Britain's payments to the EU. So he will have to rely on fringe parties such as the Ulster Unionists to pass legislation.

Major sees dangling a Europe vote as a way to unify his party and boost his ratings. He must call elections by 1997--if he can survive that long.

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