A senior German official, and a close ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel, has warned British Prime Minister David Cameron against blackmailing the EU by an in-out referendum on the union that could be disastrous to both London and Brussels.
Chair of Germany’s European affairs committee Gunther Krichbaum, who is visiting Britain at the helm of a high-level German parliamentary delegation warned that the referendum option can harm Europe and bring in economic disaster to Britain.
“There is certainly a risk that [a referendum] could paralyze efforts for a better Europe and deeper integration. Britain would risk being isolated. That cannot be in Britain’s interests,” he said.
“You cannot create a political future if you are blackmailing other states. That will not help Britain. It needs a Europe that is stable. It needs markets that are functioning,” he added.
His warning follows an earlier one by German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble back in December that any attempt to “blackmail” Germany with threats of Britain leaving the EU would not be tolerated.
Krichbaum also suggested that Britain’s economic reclusiveness could cost it political influence within Europe.
“If Britain loses the single market it would be a disaster for the British economy. If Britain left the EU, it would weaken the European Union and the idea of Europe, but it would also weaken the position of Britain vis-à-vis the EU and in the world,” he said.
Cameron is under pressure by his Conservative party members to give a chance to the British public to vote on the country’s membership of the EU at the next general election in 2015, or even before.
This comes as a recent poll in The Observer found that 56 percent of people would vote for a Britain outside the EU if they were offered the choice in a referendum.
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