Prime Minister David Cameron has issued his bluntest warning to Greece that voters must "meet their commitments" as a member of the eurozone at its renewed round of national elections next month or get out.
Speaking at the Nato summit in Chicago, he said the other leaders of the eurozone must prepare for either outcome and be ready for the repercussions of the Greek election on 17 June.
"We are coming up to a decision point where Greece is going to vote and it has to be absolutely clear that there is a choice: they can vote to stay in the eurozone and meet their commitments or they can vote to give up on their commitments and effectively give up on the eurozone," Mr Cameron said.
His comments were echoed by the Justice Secretary Ken Clarke, who said Greece will face "real poverty" if they vote "cranky extremists" into power in Athens.
Mr Cameron defended the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, whose insistence on austerity has been blamed for preventing the weekend G8 from making progress. "Obviously she wants to make sure that countries in the eurozone that signed up to all sorts of commitments meet those commitments. She did show some flexibility in terms of what more can be done on the growth agenda."
Mr Clarke, a lifelong euro enthusiast said staying in the euro remains an option for Greece. "But if they get a hopeless lot of cranky extremists elected... then they will default on their debt and everybody says they will leave the euro – actually that's quite likely but it doesn't necessarily follow. For the Greeks that will be disastrous," he warned.
While Mr Cameron and Mr Clarke appealed to Greek voters to face reality, the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, urged German taxpayers to be patient with the Greeks.
Interviewed in Der Spiegel, he said: "Whilst I have a huge amount of sympathy with German taxpayers, it is not sustainable to believe that the eurozone can thrive through fiscal discipline alone. It also has to at some level to include an ability to either share debt or to deal with shocks in one part of the system or the other through fiscal transfers."
There was another warning against the risk of a forced Greek exit and the impact on others from Shadow Chancellor, Ed Balls.
"If Greece do try to leave the eurozone in a disorderly way it would cause huge damage to the world economy," he told Sky TV's Dermot Murnaghan.Reuse content