BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany’s foreign minister said on Tuesday a British vote to leave the European Union would create a negative dynamic in the remainder of the EU, but that Berlin should not discuss any proposals for dealing with such a scenario.
Britain votes in a June 23 referendum on whether to remain in the EU, and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said he hoped British voters would decide to stay.
Asked if, given the ‘Brexit’ debate, he saw a need for a new initiative to make Europe strong and if he had discussed such plans with colleagues, Steinmeier said: “I have no influence on the campaign to prepare for the referendum in Britain.”
“Even if I had plans drawn up in my head, they would have an influence either way on the debate in Britain,” he told the foreign press association in Berlin. “Therefore, I can only say: the decision really lies in Britain.”
“We can’t have any influence on that and we shouldn’t have any influence with fantasy proposals about the future of the European Union and ‘what would happen if’, and in particular ‘what would happen if Britain leaves,” he said.
“Those are all speculative discussions that could possibly have an undesirable influence on preparations for the British referendum.”
An ORB poll for the Telegraph showed on Monday that support for Britain to stay in the EU stood at 51 percent, 5 points ahead of support for a withdrawal.
“I think there are good reasons for Britain to remain in the EU,” Steinmeier said, adding it was up to British voters to decide. “I am only sure that if Britain decides to leave, that will initiate a negative dynamic in the rest of the EU.”
Reporting by Joseph Nasr and Paul Carrel; Editing by Madeline Chambers and Richard Balmforth