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French FM warns of risky British referendum promise

Updated: 2013-01-24 00:41
( Xinhua)

PARIS - French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on Wednesday slashed at the "dangerous" promise by British Prime Minister David Cameron to hold a referendum on the country's membership in the European Union (EU).

"An exit from the the European Union risks to be dangerous for Britain itself because Britain outside of Europe, that will be difficult," Fabius told France Info radio.

The minister's remarks came after Cameron promised voters an in/out referendum on British membership of the EU if he is re-elected in 2015, saying the referendum would take place by the end of 2017, once Britain has re-negotiated its relationship with the EU.

Fabius said Britain could not expect Europe to be an "a la carte" menu, or expect to change the rules of membership just for itself.

Fabius said it was as if Britain had joined a football club and then suddenly said "let's play rugby".

"If Britain wants to leave Europe we will roll out the red carpet for you," the minister said, quoting himself in a recent meeting with British businessmen in a riposte to Cameron who last year used the same words to welcome the rich French who seek tax exiles in Britain.