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Britain starts to spend new Churchill banknote

BRITAIN'S wartime leader Winston Churchill will appear on a new plastic banknote which enters circulation on Tuesday, with greater durability and security features.

The Bank of England will initially issue 440 million new £5 notes (US$6.7) featuring Churchill, described by bank governor Mark Carney as "one of the greatest statesmen of all time".

The new note carries a portrait of Churchill and a quote from a World War II speech to parliament: "I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat."

It also carries an image of the Houses of Parliament with its Big Ben clock tower at 3:00pm, the approximate time on May 13, 1940, that Churchill delivered his speech.

The new banknote is said to be more durable as it will be the first in England to be printed on polymer, a plastic film which is already used in Scotland, Australia and Canada.

"The use of polymer means it can better withstand being repeatedly folded into wallets or scrunched up inside pockets and can also survive a spin in the washing machine," said Carney.

The new £5 note also comes with added security features, including Big Ben in gold foil on the front and silver on the back of the banknote.

Including Churchill on the banknote prompted criticism as his image replaced that of prison reformer Elizabeth Fry, leaving the queen as the only female figure on Bank of England notes.

A petition prompted the bank to unveil a new £10 note, which will come out next year, featuring novelist Jane Austin. A new £20 note will include the image of artist J. M. W. Turner and is due to be issued by 2020.


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