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I wouldn't bet on Brexit actually happening, says Germany's EU Commissioner

“It is possible that public opinion will tip if the economic situation in the wake of the Brexit vote worsens,” said Guenther Oettinger.

EU Commissioner for Digital Economy Guenther Oettinger.
EU Commissioner for Digital Economy Guenther Oettinger.
Image: Virginia Mayo/PA

GERMANY’S EU COMMISSIONER Guenther Oettinger raised doubts today about whether Britain would leave the bloc, saying he wouldn’t bet on “Brexit”.

Oettinger told German daily newspaper Bild that he assumed June’s referendum outcome in favour of Britain exiting the EU was “binding”.

“But it is possible that public opinion will tip if the economic situation in the wake of the Brexit vote worsens,” said Oettinger, who is Digital Economy Commissioner.

In any case, I wouldn’t place any major bets on Brexit.

Oettinger predicted that the longer the British government waited to trigger Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty – the legal process for leaving the bloc – “the more insecure the situation will become – economically and politically”.

Once Article 50 is triggered, it would start a two-year countdown to Britain’s exit from the EU.

Germany Government Retreat German Chancellor Angela Merkel, left, and German Minister for Economic Affairs Sigmar Gabriel, center, welcome EU Commissioner Guenther Oettinger in May. Source: Michael Sohn/PA

British Prime Minister Theresa May has said it will not be enacted this year, in order to give the UK Government time to shape Britain’s exit objectives first.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called for allowing London the time it needs to plot the way forward – yet she has refused to enter into preliminary negotiations before Article 50 is activated.

- © AFP, 2016

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