EU referendum: German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble says 'we would cry' if UK votes to leave

"We would cry," he said, prompting laughter and applause

Wolfgang Schaeuble, the German finance minister, has said he would cry if Britain votes to leave the EU in the referendum on June 23.

Schaeuble was asked what he would do during a panel discussion with George Osborne at the annual conference of the British Chambers of Commerce in London.

"We would cry," he said, reportedly prompting laughter and applause.

Earlier in the discussion, Schaeuble said the EU would be less competitive and more unstable if the UK votes to leave.

Osborne told attendees that over 50 trade deals would fall if Brexit goes ahead. 

“I would rather spend the next few years working out how to improve trade rather than spending years on a costly divorce," he said.

The views go against BBC director-general John Longworth, who said in a speech at that the UK could create a "brighter economic future for itself" outside the EU.

“The dynamism and resilience of the City of London and of the UK business sector suggest to me, that, in the long run, we have the capacity and capability to create a brighter economic future outside of the EU, just as we would have done had we had the opportunity to stay in a truly reformed EU," he said.

​The BCC had said that it would not campaign on Brexit.

Business leaders are divided over whether they should declare their interests in the run up to the referendum.

Paul Drechsler, the president of the Confederation of British Industry, which represents employers of a third of private sector workers, told the Independent business leaders should go on the record on where they stand on the EU, though he understands why many choose not to.

“I don’t think as business leaders we can hide from it, but that doesn’t mean people want to go on the public record saying what they support. I think people should, but I understand why they won’t,” Drechsler said.