European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker insisted Thursday that the EU will not be killed off if Britain votes to leave but said lessons would have to be learned.
His comments came as two new opinion polls indicated that a majority of British voters want to leave the bloc in the referendum which is to be held in just a week’s time.
“If Britain is leaving the European Union, this will open a period of major uncertainty, both in Britain and in European Union and on a more global level and this should be avoided,” Juncker told an economic forum in Russia’s second city, Saint Petersburg.
“I don’t think that the European Union will be in danger of death if Britain leaves because we continue the process of closer cooperation in Europe.”
But Juncker also said the bloc would have to learn lessons not only from events in Britain but from the rest of Europe, adding: “This euroskepticism is not only present in Britain.”
European Council President Donald Tusk, speaking on a visit to Helsinki, said it would be a “huge mistake” for both Britain and the EU if the Brexit camp wins.
An opinion poll published by Survation found 52 percent want to leave and 48 percent want to stay, while an Ipsos Mori survey put the two sides at 53 percent and 47 percent, excluding voters who are undecided.
European Union leaders on Thursday warned against Brexit but said the EU would survive if Britain quits, as two new polls showed Britons tending toward a “Leave” vote in next week’s referendum.
“I know it’s very difficult for us to be optimistic today, we know the latest polls,” EU President Donald Tusk said on a visit to Helsinki, amid volatility on the financial markets that has hit the value of the pound.
“The cost will be very high also for us,” he said, adding however: “The EU will survive, I have no doubt, it is still much easier to survive when you are 27 member states than completely alone.”
The warnings came as an Ipsos Mori survey published Thursday showed 53 percent of voters backing a Brexit compared to 47 percent who wanted to stay in the European Union.
Another poll by Survation put “Leave” ahead by 52-48, excluding undecided voters.
Four telephone polls in less than a week have now given the “Leave” camp the advantage ahead of the June 23 referendum, confirming a trend that has put European leaders on alert.
Polling expert John Curtice said the race was now too close to call.
“Until this morning I would have said to you that on the balance of probabilities, ‘Remain’ were the favorites. I think we no longer have a favorite in this referendum,” he told BBC television.
In the minutes of its June meeting, the Bank of England warned once again that the outcome of the referendum was “the largest immediate risk facing UK financial markets, and possibly also global financial markets.”