Thursday 8 December 2016

Jean-Claude Juncker: Britons 'would be best advised' to vote Remain

Published 16/06/2016 | 12:46

Jean-Claude Juncker said a British withdrawal would spark
Jean-Claude Juncker said a British withdrawal would spark "a period of major uncertainty"

The president of the European Commission has said British voters "would be best advised" to oppose leaving the EU.

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Speaking in St Petersburg, Russia, Jean-Claude Juncker said a British withdrawal would spark "a period of major uncertainty" for both Britain and the European Union.

He added, however, that he did not think the EU will be "in danger of death" if Britain leaves.

The UK goes to the polls on June 23 to decide whether to leave the EU or stay.

European Council president Donald Tusk later echoed Mr Juncker's views, saying that Brexit would lead to "seven years of political limbo and uncertainty" and would leave both the UK and the EU "distinctly weaker".

Mr Tusk has said he wants Britain to stay in the 28-nation bloc and said that London has an ever stronger voice in the workings of the club. So, he said, "leaving now doesn't make any sense".

If Britain votes to leave, it is expected to take several years before it is disentangled from all its EU commitment and renegotiates a different relationship with the bloc.

Mr Tusk promised in Helsinki on Thursday that if Britain remains, concessions that David Cameron negotiated ahead of next Thursday's referendum would be implemented in "less than one year".

German Chancellor Angela Merkel also said she wants Britain to stay in the EU, adding that "of course, that decision is up to the citizens of Great Britain".

Mrs Merkel was meeting with Slovakian prime minister Robert Fico in Berlin, who said one had to remain realistic about the outcome of the referendum.

Mr Fico said that "if a team is trailing 0-3 in the 90th minute, I can only hardly believe that this result will be reversed and we will eventually win 4-3".

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