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Brexit would be ‘irreversible’, France’s Hollande warns UK

Stephane de Sakutin, AFP

Britain will risk losing access to Europe’s common market if it votes to leave the EU, French President François Hollande said Wednesday, warning that a Brexit would be “irreversible”.

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The UK holds a defining referendum on its membership of the EU on Thursday, with the outcome still too close to call.

Speaking after talks with Slovakia’s Prime Minister Robert Fico in Paris, the French president said he hoped Britons would choose to remain within the 28-member bloc.

He warned that a victory for the “Leave” campaign would have serious consequences for both Britain and the EU.

"The departure of a country that is geographically, politically and historically part of the EU would have extremely serious consequences,” Hollande said.

Brexit saga exasperates Europe
Brexit saga exasperates Europe

“At stake is more than the future of the United Kingdom in the European Union,” he added. “It is the future of the European Union.”

The French leader noted that a Brexit would put Britain at a "very serious risk" of losing access to the bloc's single market, which guarantees the free movement of goods, capital, services, and people.

He said France would “draw all the conclusions” of such a vote, adding that the UK’s exit from the EU would be “irreversible”.

'Out is out'

Minutes later, the head of the European Commission took a similarly tough line, saying Britain would not be able to renegotiate better terms to stay in the EU should it vote to leave on Thursday.

"Out is out," Jean-Claude Juncker told reporters in Brussels, dismissing any talk of renegotiation.

There had been some reasoning that the EU would be so bent on keeping Britain in the EU that it would be willing to come up with new sweeteners to entice London.

British Prime Minister David Cameron obtained a series of concessions to limit immigration and commitments to stay out of closer union at an EU summit in February before he called for the referendum.

Juncker said Cameron "got the maximum he could receive and we gave the maximum we could give so there will be no kind of renegotiation – not on the agreement we found in February nor as far as any kind of treaty negotiation".

Video: How Scots and Northern Irish feel about Brexit

(FRANCE 24 with AP)
 

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