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Factbox: Britain and Brexit – what the rest of the world says

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LONDON: It will be up to British voters on June 23 to decide whether the country stays in the European Union, but international bodies and foreign leaders have joined the debate, mostly to urge the country not to the leave the bloc.

Below is a summary of comments ranging from institutions such as the International Monetary Fund to China’s premier.

U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA

Obama told Britain on April 22 that it would go to “the back of the queue” for trade talks with Washington if it left the EU. He combined the blunt warning with praise for Britain’s influence within the 28-nation bloc, something Washington considered important to its own interests.

U.S. Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton also wants Britain to stay in the EU.

U.S. REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE DONALD TRUMP

Trump said on May 5 that Britain would be better off outside the EU because of high levels of migration. “I think the migration has been a horrible thing for Europe. A lot of that was pushed by the EU. I would say that they’re better off without it personally, but I’m not making that as a recommendation – just my feeling,” he told Fox News.

On May 15 he said Britain would not be at the back of the queue for trade deals if he becomes president.

RUSSIAN PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN’S SPOKESMAN

The Kremlin said on May 18 that Putin was being dragged into Britain’s EU debate to score points.

“We are used to the Russian factor being one of the regular tools used in the U.S. electoral campaign, but for us it’s a new thing that the Russian factor or President Putin is being used in the Brexit debate,” spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

Several British politicians campaigning for Britain to remain in the EU, including Prime Minister David Cameron, have suggested that Putin would favor a Brexit. Putin has not made his views on the issue public.

JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER SHINZO ABE

Abe used a visit to London on May 5 to warn Britain that a vote to leave the EU would make Britain less attractive for Japanese investors. “Japan very clearly would prefer Britain to remain within the EU,” he said “Many Japanese companies set up their operations in the UK precisely because the UK is a gateway to the EU … A vote to leave would make the UK less attractive as a destination for Japanese investment.”

GERMAN FINANCE MINISTER WOLFGANG SCHAEUBLE

Schaeuble said on March 3 it would be extremely difficult or even impossible for Britain to negotiate a “special deal” on trade with the EU if it left the bloc. “Imagine the negotiations that would have to take place after a Brexit decision. For the years to come all this bureaucratic stuff. Good luck!” he said.

FRENCH FINANCE MINISTER MICHEL SAPIN

London’s status as a global financial center would probably be affected to some extent if Britain votes to leave the European Union, Sapin said on May 12.

“The City is a considerable financial force and I don’t think that (Brexit) would transform all the elements that constitute its strength,” Sapin said through a translator during a visit to London. “But I don’t think that it would be without effects which would have to be seen.”

IMF MANAGING DIRECTOR CHRISTINE LAGARDE

International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde said on May 13 there were no economic positives to Britain leaving the European Union and that the impact would range from “pretty bad to very, very bad”.

The fund said an exit vote would “precipitate a protracted period of heightened uncertainty, leading to financial market volatility and a hit to output.”

The global economy watchdog had earlier made an unusual incursion into a national political issue on April 12 when it said a Brexit could “do severe regional and global damage by disrupting established trading relationships.”

ORGANIZATION FOR ECONOMIC CO-OPERATION AND DEVELOPMENT

The OECD said Britons would face a “Brexit tax” if they left the EU, equivalent to a month’s salary by 2020, given the likely hit to the economy. Its secretary general urged Britons to think carefully about how they would fare outside the 28-country bloc. “Britain, look at yourself in the mirror, naked. Do you like what you see? Mostly I hope you come out saying: not too much,” Angel Gurria said.

EU ECONOMICS COMMISSIONER PIERRE MOSCOVICI

Britain leaving the EU would amount to a “lose-lose” situation, Moscovici said on May 8.

“I wish passionately for Great Britain to remain in the European Union,” he told France’s BFM TV. “I think it would be lose-lose, a loss for them and a loss for us, if Britain left.”

CHINESE PREMIER XI JINPING

China, which is sensitive to comments from abroad and usually does not talk about other countries’ domestic affairs, issued a veiled call on Britain to stay in the EU when its leader Xi Jinping visited the country in October. “China hopes to see a prosperous Europe and a united EU, and hopes Britain, as an important member of the EU, can play an even more positive and constructive role in promoting the deepening development of China-EU ties,” he said.

COLOMBIAN PRESIDENT JUAN MANUEL SANTOS

Santos said on May 11 it would be a “big mistake” for Britain to leave. “I lived here for 10 years. I consider London my second home and from my personal point of view, it would be a very big mistake to leave the European Union,” he said at a meeting with investors in London.

DALLAS FEDERAL RESERVE PRESIDENT ROBERT KAPLAN

Kaplan told reporters in London that uncertainty about Brexit could affect whether the Fed raised rates for the first time since December at its June 15 meeting.

He said: “There is no question that if it were to occur, it would open up potential tail risk, including the sudden or rapid depreciation of the currency which might in fact have ripple effects in other countries.”

GROUP OF 20 ECONOMIES

Finance ministers and central bank governors from 20 of the world’s leading economies put Brexit on their list of dangers to the world economy when they met in February. G20 officials said Brexit was added on the insistence of Britain.

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