German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble has urged Britain to remain strongly engaged in the European Union, responding to a tide of euroscepticism that Berlin fears could sweep London towards the exit.
Mr Schäuble's plea, delivered during a visit to Oxford University, came days after British Foreign Secretary William Hague mapped out a very different vision of a much looser EU in which Britain would opt out of many policies.
"In my view the British voice is sorely needed in this [European] competition of ideas", Mr Schäuble, known for his passionately pro-European views, told a mainly academic audience at Saint Anthony's College in Oxford. "I firmly believe Europe would be the poorer without this input to our debates. Britain should retain and regain a place at the centre of Europe because this will be good for the European Union."
Ms Merkel echoed his comments on Monday evening at a gathering of members of her centre-right Christian Democrats (CDU) in the northern German town of Schwerin. "Britain is an important partner in the European Union ... Britain has to some extent other ideas [about Europe], it does not want such close integration. But from the German perspective, from the point of view of our interests it is an important member of the EU", she said.
© The Telegraph
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