The Anti-Brexit Forces’ New Weapon? The G20

February 26, 2016, 8:39 AM UTC
U.K. Chancellor Of The Exchequer George Osborne Delivers Autumn Budget Statement
George Osborne, U.K. chancellor of the exchequer, leaves the HM Treasury building before heading to deliver his Autumn budget statement at the Houses of Parliament in London, U.K., on Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014. Osborne will present his end-of-year outlook to Parliament today -- his last Autumn Statement before next year's general election. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Photograph by Simon Dawson — Bloomberg via Getty Images

British finance minister George Osborne is pushing the Group of 20 leading economies to warn about the dangers of Britain leaving the European Union, the Financial Times reported on Thursday.

Osborne said he hoped G20 support for Britain staying in the EU would be an important outcome of a meeting on Friday and Saturday in Shanghai of finance ministers, the FT said, citing people close to the finance minister.

Britain’s finance ministry declined to comment.

Chinese officials expressed concerns about a “Brexit” in bilateral meetings with their British counterparts in Beijing on Wednesday, the FT said.

In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said he had “noted” Osborne’s comments. China supported the European integration process, he added, and would like to see Europe play an even greater role in the world.

“We hope that Britain and the EU can appropriately handle the relevant issue,” Hong told a daily news briefing.

A G20 official, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said the prospect of Britain voting to leave the EU in a referendum on June 23 had been raised with Osborne by officials from other countries on the sidelines of the G20 meetings.

“We understand some countries are raising the issue with the Chancellor in bilateral meetings. If they are concerned, then it could end up in the communique, though this would be unusual and the British have not put it on the agenda,” the official said.

The possibility that Britain might leave the EU has led to a sharp fall in sterling in recent weeks. Some economists say an ‘out’ vote could deliver a shock to the global economy, which is already struggling to grow quickly, because it would raise questions about the future of the bloc as a whole.

Prime Minister David Cameron is campaigning to keep Britain in the EU and has the support of London’s financial district, major companies, much of the Labour Party, major trade unions, international allies and Scottish nationalists.

International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde, in an interview with CNN Money on Wednesday, warned Britain against Brexit. She said trade and financial ties, and migration between the UK and Europe have boosted growth.

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