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"Out means out", German lawmakers warn Britain on Brexit

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Britain should not get special treatment from the European Union if it leaves the bloc and should expect tough talks in sealing bilateral deals, lawmakers from German chancellor Angela Merkel's governing coalition said on Tuesday.

[BERLIN] Britain should not get special treatment from the European Union if it leaves the bloc and should expect tough talks in sealing bilateral deals, lawmakers from German chancellor Angela Merkel's governing coalition said on Tuesday.

The British people should be aware of the risks if a Brexit went ahead, the lawmakers said, and applauded US President Barack Obama for his comment last week that it would take years for Britain to negotiate a trade deal with the United States if it voted to leave the bloc on June 23.

Volker Kauder, the leader of Merkel's conservatives in parliament, said Britain would lose all the benefits it enjoys as a full member of the European Union: "Out means out!"

Opinion polls suggest the sides are evenly matched, with a survey by ICM showing a slight lead for those in favour of Brexit while a survey in the Telegraph newspaper gave a slight lead to those preferring to stay.

"Rules will be without doubt set for the internal European market. Discussions among leaders will take place as usual and Britain will not be there," Michael Grosse-Broemer, deputy floor leader of Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) said.

He thanked Mr Obama for "making it clear one more time that Britain, also in his view, has an important status in Europe, and this is also our belief".

Gerda Hasselfeldt, parliamentary group head of the Christian Social Union (CSU), Ms Merkel's Bavarian allies, said Britain should not expect to have preferential treatment in case of a Brexit.

"To me, it is clear: exit means exit. Citizens have to know that with this decision there will be no special treatment for Britain," Ms Hasselfeldt said.

'NO EXTRA BONUSES'

German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble last month warned that a British vote to leave would "poison" the British, European and global economies.

Mr Schaeuble said that while Britain would still be able to trade with the EU after leaving, it could not have the advantage of access to the bloc's single market without accepting free movement of EU citizens or paying in to the EU's budget.

"We went some way toward accommodating Britain's demands," Thomas Oppermann, parliamentary faction leader of the left-leaning Social Democrats (SPD) said, referring to a deal that British Prime Minister David Cameron sealed at an EU summit in February that gave Britain "special status" in the bloc.

"I believe that a Brexit will have devastating consequences for the British economy," he said. "The financial institutions in the City of London will look with horror at the day when such a decision is made."

EU leaders in February granted Britain an explicit exemption from the founding goal of "ever closer union", offered concessions on welfare rights for migrant workers and safeguards for the City of London financial centre.

REUTERS