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Maude in call for calm amid Brexit storm


Measured: Lord Francis Maude

Measured: Lord Francis Maude

Measured: Lord Francis Maude

The UK's Trade and Investment Minister has called for calm surrounding the debate on Britain's EU referendum during a visit to Dublin.

Lord Francis Maude said the issue barely came up when he spoke with investors at a breakfast briefing yesterday organised by accountancy group PwC.

Prime Minister David Cameron will meet European Council President Donald Tusk in London on Sunday, as officials prepare to reveal details of reform negotiations next week.

The meeting will follow Mr Cameron's talks in Brussels today with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

Lord Maude said the sooner the reform package is agreed and Mr Cameron can present it to the British people, "then the sooner we can get on and have it and get it done". But he said the issue comes up "less than you think" with investors. "I did a breakfast with a bunch of tech companies who are interested in doing stuff in the UK, and it barely came up. I don't think it's the most important thing."

He added: "There are big chunks of what the EU does that Britain isn't part of and isn't going to be part of, so we just need to be a bit calmer about it all."

Asked if negative commentary about a potential Brexit was overblown, he said he doesn't "hear catastrophe merchants around the place".

"People who argue that it would be catastrophic to leave are probably overstating it. Equally those who claim that it would be a massive liberation are overstating it."

Ireland's Central Bank chief Philip Lane this week said major multinationals were stalling on plans to invest in the UK while eyeing up Ireland in the event of a Brexit.

Belfast Telegraph