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Chancellor George Osborne plans for Greek exit from euro

By Gavin Cordon and Andrew Woodcock

Britain has issued a last-ditch appeal to Greece to strike a deal with its creditors to prevent it being forced out of the euro.

Chancellor George Osborne said the EU needed to be "prepared for the worst" after a meeting of eurozone group finance ministers failed to break the deadlock yesterday.

Hopes of preventing a disorderly "Grexit" by Athens from the single currency - with potentially far-reaching consequences for the rest of the EU - would now appear to rest with an emergency summit of the eurozone leaders in Brussels on Monday.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras courted further controversy by staging talks in St Petersburg with Vladimir Putin, amid expectations he may ask the Russian President to throw him a financial lifeline.

With signs that Greeks are taking their money out of the banks in increasing amounts - with €2 billion (£1.4bn) reportedly withdrawn in the last three days - Mr Osborne said the Treasury was stepping up measures to protect the UK economy.

"We have entered the eleventh hour of this Greek crisis, and we urge the Greek Government to do a deal before it is too late," he said as he arrived for a meeting of EU finance ministers in Luxembourg.

"In the United Kingdom we've taken measures to increase our economic security so we can deal with risks like this from abroad."

Time is running out for the left-wing Syriza government which must find €1.6bn (£1.15bn) to repay the International Monetary Fund by June 30.

Eurozone leaders are insisting they will only release the next tranche of bailout funds Athens needs to make the payment if it signs up to tough new austerity measures.

Belfast Telegraph


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