The Australian foreign minister has made a personal plea to William Hague, the UK foreign secretary, to keep Britain in the EU, becoming the latest and most senior foreign official to do so.
In a letter contained in the evidence submitted to the government’s review of EU powers, Bob Carr tells Mr Hague that British influence and economic power rest on membership of the union.
Mr Carr writes: “Australia recognises the UK’s strength and resilience and looks forward to seeing it continue as a leading economy and effective power. Strong, active membership of the EU contributes to this.
“I particularly want to register Australia’s strong appreciation for the important and positive role that the UK has played in EU foreign policy. I hope to see this continue.”
In a second letter, another member of the Australian government writes to Vince Cable, the business secretary, to urge the UK to play an “active” role in the union.
The letter says: “Australia’s strong links with the UK allow Australian businesses to use the UK as a platform for trade and investment in the broader EU market. I encourage the UK to maintain its influence by remaining an engaged participant in all aspects of the EU internal market.”
The interventions were part of evidence submitted to the government’s review of EU powers, which was published on Monday. The names of those who sent the letters have been removed, but the first is stamped “minister for foreign affairs”, which would suggest Bob Carr, the foreign minister, or someone in his office. The second is sent from Parliament House in Canberra.
The Australian messages are the latest in a series of warnings to the UK from foreign governments about leaving the bloc.
A senior official from the US government said in January it was in the interests of the US that Britain plays an active role in Europe. This weekend it emerged that the Japanese government has also added its voice to the growing international pressure.
Japanese officials have written a memo to the Foreign Office suggesting that jobs at 1,300 Japanese companies with British outlets could be at risk if the UK were to leave the union.
The pressure from some of Britain’s most important foreign allies leaves David Cameron in a difficult position. The prime minister said in January he would hold a referendum on EU membership, but so far he has refused to say which side he will campaign on. He is under heavy pressure from some of the most vociferous eurosceptics on his backbenches to say he would prefer the UK to leave.
The prime minister yesterday reiterated his desire for a renegotiation of EU powers. He told an audience at the Bentley car factory in Crewe: “The EU is not flexible enough, it is not competitive enough. It is actually holding back, sometimes, British business and the British economy.”
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