Germany warns it will be catastrophic if Britain quits Brussels and the dictatorship EU

Britain quitting Brussels would be a ‘catastrophe’ for the EU, Germany warns

By Matt Chorley, Mailonline Political Editor
PUBLISHED: 12:57, 9 March 2013 | UPDATED: 16:34, 9 March 2013

The European Union would suffer a ‘catastrophe’ if Britain votes to sever ties with Brussels, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has warned.

Despite a very public spat over plans to cap bankers’ bonuses – backed by all member states except Britain – Mr Schaeuble said he could not imagine the EU without the UK in it.

David Cameron’s promise to claw back powers from Brussels before holding a straight in-out referendum if the Tories win the next election have caused panic in several European countries.

Mr Schaeuble revealed the growing fears on the continent of the chaos a British exit could trigger.

It comes after Chancellor George Osborne was outnumbered 26-1 in his attempts to block an EU plan to cap banker’s bonuses at a year’s salary.

Mr Schaeuble said he could understand Britain’s concern, given the major role of the City.

He told Austrian newspaper Der Standard: ‘I would prefer that the British could also agree, especially since I would not like the British to be driven out of the EU in the end.

‘It is German policy that one does not support the voices that can imagine an EU without the UK.’

A British exit from Brussels would inflict serious damage on the institution, he warned.

‘Try then to explain to an Indonesian: Europe is an incredibly strong, dynamic entity but unfortunately not in a position to keep a globally oriented country like Britain as a member.

‘This loss of reputation alone would be a catastrophe.’

In his major speech on Europe in January Mr Cameron announced voters will be given the chance to choose ‘out nation’s destiny’ and opt to stay in or leave the European Union by the end of 2017.

In the biggest gamble of his premiership, the Prime Minister said he would campaign with ‘all my heart and soul’ to stay in the EU if he secures a deal to claw back powers from Brussels.

He said: ‘We will give the British people a referendum with a very simple in or out choice to stay in the EU on these new terms or come out altogether.

‘It is time for the British people to have their say. It is time to settle this European question in British politics.’

He set out a detailed timetable for staging the historic referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU.

The Tories will start drawing up a draft Bill immediately, to be finalised before the 2015 election.

The Conservative party election manifesto will promise to negotiate a ‘new settlement’ with Brussels, including clawing back powers.

If Mr Cameron is returned as Prime Minister he will push through the legislation within weeks, passing into law by the end of 2015. Aides say the issue would be a ‘red line’ to doing a coalition deal if the Tories fail to secure an outright majority.

The in/out referendum will take place before 2017, halfway through the 2015-20 Parliament.

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