The European Union (EU) would survive Britain leaving the bloc, and a Brexit could even spur European leaders into taking a new direction, the German Finance Minister has said.
Speaking to the University of Basel’s European Institute, the Wolfgang Schäuble said that although a Brexit would be a setback, he remained optimistic for the future of Europe.
“Even a Brexit would, without doubt, just force us to take a new approach and create a new dynamic.”,” he told the gathered audience in Switzerland.
Frankfurter Allgemeine reports that despite Europe’s currently problems, Mr Schäuble said he remained “totally optimistic” for the EU’s future, hinting that Brussels may take advantage of the continent’s multiple crises to push for further integration.
Despite this, he warned the bloc currently has a “crisis of legitimacy” thanks in part to the ongoing migrant influx. “It is quite a long, difficult path ahead of us,” he said.
His comments indicate a change of tone from previous remarks, when he claimed that Brexit would make Europe “less stable, more volatile”. He even said last month that Germany “would cry” if Britain leaves the EU.
Britain goes to the polls in June to decide whether it should leave the European Union. Opinion polls have given varying results, but one last month predicted victory for the ‘leave’ campaign because its supporters are more motivated to turn out and vote on the day.
The ORB poll for the Telegraph gave the leave campaign a two-point lead at 49 to 47 per cent, but when the likely turnout was taken into account, this shifted the Brexit lead to 52 per cent over 45 per cent for remain.
Another survey found voters may back Brexit if the campaign persuades them they will be just 50p per week better off if Britain leaves the EU.
Philip Cowley, professor of politics at Queen Mary University of London, commented: “If people feel Brexit will reduce their income – even by as little as £25 a year, or 50p a week – then a majority will vote to remain. If people think they’ll be better off out, then a majority will vote to leave.”