German chancellor Angela Merkel has made her strongest intervention in the Brexit debate so far, warning that the UK would be isolated and lose influence if it leaves the EU in the referendum in three weeks’ time.
Ms Merkel cited trade and the single market as key reasons for the UK to stay in the 28-nation bloc, backing the economic arguments put forward by British prime minister David Cameron and supported by bodies such as the IMF.
Campaigners for leaving argue that the UK can continue doing business freely with the EU and reach favourable free-trade deals with the rest of the world once out of the bloc.
“For those coming from the outside, and we’ve had lots of negotiations with third-party countries, we would never make the same compromises, or achieve the same good results, for states that don’t take on the responsibility and costs of the single market,” Ms Merkel said at a news conference in Berlin yesterday.
“One nation alone will never be able to achieve such good results.”
Ms Merkel risks a British backlash as she adds her support for staying in to that of US president Barack Obama and other world leaders.
Mr Cameron is attempting to regain the initiative after polls in recent days suggested a swing to the ‘Leave’ campaign, which has moved its focus to cutting immigration.
“It’s in all of our interest, but also in British interests, to say that we’re putting all of our weight into a negotiation as part of the EU,” Ms Merkel said, referring to efforts to forge trade agreements.
The result of such co-operative action “will be qualitatively better for the people in the UK than if that happens from the outside”.
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