LONDON — European Union heavyweights Germany and France hope that U.K. citizens will vote this week to stay in the EU, saying the bloc would be poorer without Britain.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Monday that Europe would “lose more than just a country. We would be losing the history and traditions of Great Britain in the European Union.”
He said that “Europe would be much poorer if Britain leaves.”
His French counterpart, Jean-Marc Ayrault, said that “the choice the British people make will be important for them, but also for Europe.”
He told reporters at an EU foreign ministers’ meeting in Luxembourg that “all Europeans are looking to the British people, because we have – history reminds us – a long life in common.”
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven says Europe will wake up to “a new political reality” if British voters decide to leave the European Union.
But the Social Democratic leader says there’s no reason to panic.
“We don’t know exactly which effects and which forces could be triggered in Europe,” Lofven told Swedish news agency TT on Monday. “But it doesn’t mean any collapse, panic or chaos in Sweden. We will manage.”
He said his government is working on a plan for how to respond, whether the “leave” side or the “remain” side wins the June 23 referendum.
The pound and global stock markets are surging as both opinion polls and betting markets suggest an increase in support for Britain to remain in the European Union.
The first opinion polls since the slaying of pro-Europe lawmaker Jo Cox suggest that the “remain” camp has benefited from a two-day suspension in campaigning following her death.
Kathleen Brooks, research director at Gain Capital, says the pause seems to have lent crucial support to “remain.”
Betting market Betfair says the probability of “remain” has risen to 72 per cent, from Friday’s 65 per cent.