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Saturday, 18 June 2016
Brexit would make Britain like Guernsey, says French minister
Leaving the European Union would make the UK as significant as Guernsey, France's economy minister has said.
Emmanuel Macron told Le Monde newspaper that Britain would become "a little country on the world scale [that] would isolate itself... at Europe's border".
He said the EU should send "a very firm message" about the consequences of a British vote to leave the bloc.
Pro-Brexit campaigners say Britain would prosper outside the EU and develop new trading relationships.
Mr Macron's comments were published after remarks by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who suggested Prime Minister David Cameron, who favours staying in the EU, may have called the referendum to "blackmail" or "scare" Europe.
The Russian leader would not say whether he wanted Britain to leave the EU and said voters faced a "complicated" choice.
The UK votes next Thursday in an in-out referendum.
In other developments:
The IMF has said Brexit could mean the UK misses out on up to 5.6% of GDP growth by 2019
Field Marshal Lord Guthrie, a former chief of defence staff, has switched sides to Leave, saying he is worried by the prospect of "a European army"
And he said the European Council would have to deliver an ultimatum to the UK about its intentions and that France's President Hollande would be very clear.
"If the UK wants a treaty of commercial access to the European market, the British will have to contribute to the European budget like the Norwegians or the Swiss. If London doesn't want that, then the exit will have to be total," Mr Macron said.
'New trade deals'
In other comments, made to French radio, Mr Macron said the British referendum marked the end of an era for the EU.
"I believe in Europe, but in its reorganisation," he told RTL radio. "It's the end of an ultra-liberal Europe that has lost its political direction. The European project cannot only be a system of abolishing rules."