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French and German foreign affairs ministers warn against Brexit

The German newsweekly magazine Der Spiegel with cover headline of 'Please don't go!' in reference to Brexit referendum. Photograph: (Getty)

AFP Brandenburg, Germany Jun 16, 2016, 11.35 AM (IST)

The anti-Brexit front swells its ranks with Germany Foreign Affairs Minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, and its French counterpart, Jean-Marc Ayrault, openly warning against UK leaving the European Union (EU).

"We can both say that we want the majority in Britain to make the right decision, and the right decision from our point of view can only be to remain in Europe," said Steinmeier during a joint press conference in Brandenburg, close to Berlin.

Addressing eruosceptics' worries, French Foreign Affair Minister promised that the union would keep evolving in time. "Europe can't be static, it must keep moving," he said. "Today it faces contradictions, slow-downs, difficulties, anxieties and fears, but we want to give Europe a new dynamism.”

Berlin's representative went as far as saying that the 23 June referendum could eventually lead to the "disintegration" of the EU. "It would be a shock that would require mutual assurances that the European Union continues to stick together," he said.

Euroscepticism has played a significant role in the history of UK politics. Since the end of the Second World War, the English attitude towards a united Europe has always been ambiguous. A position well summarized by then-Prime Minister Winston Churchill, when he declared in a speech in Zuirch that a "kind of United States of Europe" was a necessity, but without involving Britain.

Franco-German statements come directly from two of the founding members of the European Union, as well as two of its leading economies. It is an influential endorsement for anti-Brexit supporters, among which British Prime Minister David Cameron, after a series of polls showed the Brexit front in the lead.

A vote that would leave Britain as an outsider to the EU is "a reality which we don't want", said German Foreign Affairs Minister. "Europe would be lacking a lot if Great Britain decided to leave."

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