EU referendum: Swedish foreign minister warns Brexit 'could cause break-up of European Union'

Margot Wallstrom said a vote to leave could spark more referendums elsewhere

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Brexit could cause the European Union to break down by triggering efforts by other nations to secede, the Swedish foreign minister has said.

An exclusive poll for The Independent found that the campaign for Britain to leave the EU has opened up a 10-point lead against Remain in a reversal of the position one year ago.

Margot Wallstrom, the foreign minister of Sweden, said other nations could follow the UK with referendums and demands from reform if it votes Out on 23 June.

Referendum Debate highlights

“The spill-over effect will be deeply felt,” she said on the BBC's This Week's World programme.

"That might affect other EU member states that will say: ‘Well, if they can leave, maybe we should also have referendums and maybe we should also leave.’

"If they stay, it might also lead to other countries saying: 'Well, they negotiated, they asked and demanded to have a special treatment so why shouldn't we?'"

Ms Wallstrom is one of many European leaders hoping the UK will remain in the alliance, saying it was an important trading partner and home to around 90,000 Swedes.

Several politicians have raised concerns that Brexit could spark the dismantling of the entire EU, as well as domestic fears that it could threaten the UK’s existence by provoking another independence referendum in Scotland.

Former Prime Ministers Sir John Major and Tony Blair called the prospect a “historic mistake” last week.

US President Barack Obama has been vocal in his support of David Cameron’s position in the Remain camp, while presumptive Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has backed a Brexit.

The survey of 2,000 people for The Independent by ORB found that 55 per cent believe the UK should leave the EU (up four points since our last poll in April), while 45 per cent want it to remain (down four points). 

When the findings are not weighted for turnout, Leave was on 53 per cent and Remain on 47 per cent.