Brexit a ‘serious risk’ to global economic growth, G7 leaders say

G7 Leaders

G7 Leaders

A British exit from the European Union would be a serious risk to global economic growth, world leaders said in a declaration at the opening of a two-day Group of Seven (G7) summit in Japan on Friday.

The statement was welcomed by British Prime Minister David Cameron, who urged voters in the UK to “listen to our friends” ahead of a June 23 referendum on whether to leave the EU.

“A UK exit from the EU would reverse the trend towards greater global trade and investment, and the jobs they create, and is a further serious risk to growth,” G7 leaders said, in the only reference to the vote in a 32-page declaration.

Brexit was listed alongside geopolitical conflicts, terrorism and refugee flows as a potential shock of a “non-economic origin”.

The issue was not formally on the agenda at the two-day summit in Japan, but British government officials had said they expected it would come up on the margins.

French President François Hollande said Brexit would be economically bad news for the world.

“It is not for us to say what the British people should be doing,” he told reporters. “Economically, it would be bad news, bad news for the United Kingdom, as well as the world, not just Europe. That would trigger capital transfers as well as the relocation of some activities that would not be for the benefit if the United Kingdom or even for Europe.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that leaders had not discussed Brexit but that there was a consensus that they wanted the country to stay in.

Opinion polls have given conflicting steers on which way the vote might go, with telephone polls suggesting “In” is comfortably ahead while online polls suggest a tight race that “Out” could win. Betting odds heavily favour an “In” vote.

The G7 statement follows comments from the International Monetary Fund that there were no economic positives to Britain leaving the EU, while the Bank of England has said the economy would slow sharply, and possibly even enter a brief recession.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has also warned that British voters risk paying a “Brexit tax” equivalent to a month’s salary by 2020 if they leave the EU.

Last week, G7 finance leaders united in wishing Britain stayed in the EU, but acknowledged they could do little more than hope.