France’s socialist Finance Minister says he believes that after contributing to global “uncertainty” the British people will be “intelligent” and vote against leaving the European Union (EU).
The French Finance Minister, Michel Sapin, was speaking in Hong Kong ahead of a Shanghai meeting of other finance ministers and central bank governors from the Group of 20 leading economies (the G20). According to French newspaper Les Échos, Mr. Sapin believes the world economy faces “difficulties…but not a crisis”.
One such difficulty for him is the uncertainty the EU faces surrounding the outcome of the Brexit referendum, but he claimed to be confident that the British electorate will vote to Remain.
“I believe in the intelligence of the people, I think the British people, regardless of any temptations, tensions, mood changes, will make the choice that is best for them and best for Europe, i.e. to remain in the EU.”
He added: “Our deeply held belief, it is sincere, it is not a belief from circumstances or politeness, we think the best for everyone, for Great Britain as for the rest of Europe, is that Great Britain remains in the EU… And I believe that this opinion will be the majority opinion within the G20 member countries.”
Although Mr. Sapin did predict Britain would reject Brexit, he did not completely rule out the possibility that the country might vote to leave the EU, something he sees as a reason for the current anxiety on financial markets. He explained:
“Once you decide to ask the opinion of the people, and it was a respectable and sovereign decision of the British authorities, you create uncertainty. That uncertainty is one of the elements that exists today with regards to global stability or the stability of Europe.”
Fear of uncertainty and economic instability is never welcomed by finance ministers and bankers, but some have accused authorities of deliberate scaremongering ahead of Britain’s referendum. Regardless, Mr. Sapin’s intervention in British affairs will be welcomed by Chancellor George Osborne as he spearheads a British government move seeking to include a public endorsement for Britain staying in the EU in the official G20 communiqué.