A British vote to leave the European Union, known as the Brexit, would hurt both Britain and the EU, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has said.
It could spark similar referendum votes in other countries, Schaeuble said in remarks to Der Spiegel magazine for a special report on the Brexit titled Please don't go! Why Germany Needs the British appearing in Saturday’s German-English edition.
Schaeuble said that “it would be a miracle if a withdrawal of Britain would come without economic disadvantages,'' adding that he and EU officials are `”preparing for all possible scenarios in order to minimize the danger.''
If Britons opt for a Brexit in the June 23 referendum, the country would not have access to the single market with its free movement of people, goods and services like non-members Norway and Switzerland do, Schaeuble said. "In is in. Out is out," he told Der Spiegel.
Even if Britons vote to remain in the 28-member group, the referendum itself shows a dissatisfaction that the EU leaders cannot ignore, Schaeuble said.“We have to see this as a warning and a wakeup call not just to continue business as usual.''
Some have suggested the EU could use a British exit as an opportunity to push for more integration, but Schaeuble has rejected the idea saying “that would be clumsy, and many would correctly question whether we politicians still do not understand.''
Schaeuble said that if Britain became the only country to leave the EU, Europe in the end “would work without Britain."