In boost for Cameron, US opposes Brexit

British finance minister George Osborne pushed financial leaders from the top 20 economies to include the risk of Britain leaving the EU in their list of dangers to the world economy today, gaining explicit support from the US.

  • Published 28.02.16
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US treasury secretary Jack Lew in Shanghai. (AFP)

Shanghai, Feb. 27 (Reuters): British finance minister George Osborne pushed financial leaders from the top 20 economies to include the risk of Britain leaving the EU in their list of dangers to the world economy today, gaining explicit support from the US.

Britons will vote in a referendum in June 23 on whether to remain part of the 28-nation EU.

British Prime Minister David Cameron negotiated a special status for Britain in the bloc last week to help convince eurosceptics that continued membership was more beneficial than leaving.

The risk of Britain exiting the EU, dubbed "Brexit", was not in the original draft of the communique of finance ministers and central bankers of the top 20 economies, but was added on the insistence of Britain, G20 officials said.

In a significant boost for Cameron and Osborne, US treasury secretary Jack Lew expressed clear support for Britain's continued membership of the EU.

"Our view is that it's in the national security and economic security of the United Kingdom, of Europe and of the United States for the United Kingdom to stay in the European Union," Lew said.

"This is an issue that will be decided by the voters of the United Kingdom in June and we certainly hope that (they) reach that conclusion," Lew added, in unusually direct comments on foreign political matters.

The final G20 communique, seen by Reuters, lists"a shock of a potential UK exit from the European Union" as one of the risks to the global economy, alongside volatile markets, cheap commodities and the migration crisis.

"It was the British who called for it, but it didn't meet with opposition," one G20 official said."Everyone around the table would rather avoid a shock of that sort at such a fragile time for the global economy." Osborne said finance ministers and central bank governors raised"serious concerns" about a British departure from the EU.

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