ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP: EU Leaders Plan Punishment If Britain Leaves

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From the Independent:

Senior EU leaders are preparing the ground for a possible Brexit vote with high-level meetings aimed at a “plan B” future of the bloc without the UK, including closer co-operation on security and defence matters.

The leaders of Germany, France, Italy, Belgium and other core members are likely to “double down” on closer union, the Financial Times reported, amid concern that Brexit could encourage separatist sentiments in other EU states.

Officials expect a punitive approach to Britain, with an official meeting of 27 leaders – excluding David Cameron – expected shortly after a potential Brexit vote.

Senior Whitehall figures have identified EU leaders’ concerns over “contagion” of

anti-EU sentiment as a key reason why, despite the reassurances of Leave campaigners, the bloc will be unlikely to offer Britain a favourable trade deal in the event of Brexit. One senior civil servant said Berlin, Paris and Brussels would see the post-Brexit landscape as an “existential battle” to save the European project.

Officials in Paris have taken a hard line, with one senior figure telling the FT: “Playing down or minimising the consequences of [of leaving the EU] would put Europe at risk…the principle of consequences is important.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is said to favour a softer approach. German officials, however, told the FT, that they expected the market realities for the post-Brexit economy could prove punitive enough.

Speaking at the G7 summit in Japan, where leaders agreed a short statement warning of the “potential shock” of Brexit and its “serious risk for growth”, David Cameron said it was right to listen to allies, but appeared to dial down his recent warnings of the consequences of a Leave vote. “Britain is an amazing country,” he said. “We can find our way whatever the British people choose.”

Closer integration in a post-Brexit EU is likely to take the form of tighter security and defence collaboration, against the backdrop of aggression from Russia in the East, and the threat of Islamist terrorism enhanced by the war in Syria and instability in neighbouring Turkey.