David Cameron tells Greece: buy into austerity or get out of the eurozone

Prime Minister insists that world cannot afford to wait for answers on future of single currency

David Cameron has issued his bluntest warning yet to Greece that voters need to "meet their commitments" as a member of the eurozone in elections next month or leave the currency union.

Speaking at the Nato summit in Chicago, and ahead of a crucial meeting of EU heads of government on Wednesday, the Prime Minister said the eurozone must now prepare for either outcome and be ready for the repercussions of the Greek vote, set for 17 June. The poll was called after Greek parties failed to form a new government earlier this month – raising fears of a euro exit. "We are coming to a decision point where Greece is going to vote. It has to be absolutely clear 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. No one could tell Greece's parties what to do, but he can have left them in no doubt of how he feels. "The choice Greece faces is maintaining its commitments and maintaining its place in the eurozone or deciding that's not the path it wants to take.

"What is required is decisiveness, strong actions by all governments – whether it's action to deal with deficits, to deal with the banks, to calm markets," he said. "The eurozone has to put in place the most robust contingency plans for both eventualities because the world is suffering from continued uncertainty in the eurozone. So this is a decision point."

Mr Cameron also defended the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, whose insistence on austerity has been blamed for preventing the G8 summit 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."

The Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke, a lifelong Euro-enthusiast, told Sky News that staying in the euro was still an option for Greece. "But if they get a lot of cranky extremists elected, they will default on their debt and everybody says they will leave the euro. For the Greeks, that will be disastrous. They will encounter real poverty," he warned.

While Mr Cameron and Mr Clarke appealed to Greek voters to face reality, the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, pleaded with 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 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."

Mr Clegg also lamented a lack of leadership in the eurozone, and the political instability which has brought down nine eurozone governments in three years. "This cannot carry on, because the combination of economic insecurity and political paralysis is the ideal recipe for an increase in extremism and xenophobia," he warned.

There was another warning against the risk of a forced Greek exit from the euro from the shadow Chancellor, Ed Balls. "If Greece does try to leave the eurozone in a disorderly way it would cause huge damage to the world economy, to the British economy, and to the eurozone economy, as the eurozone has not sorted out how to stop this crisis spreading to Spain and Italy," he told Sky's Dermot Murnaghan.

The crisis in Europe, combined with austerity at home, is proving corrosive for the British Government. A ComRes poll for yesterday's Independent on Sunday showed for the first time that David Cameron's personal rating is lower than Ed Miliband's, with only two-thirds of Conservative voters saying that he is a good Prime Minister.

The former Chancellor, Alistair Darling, claimed that the Government had added to the country's economic problems, causing a second recession by focusing on spending cuts instead of growth. "Reducing public expenditure at a time when businesses and individuals stop spending runs the risk of crashing the economy, and that's pretty much what's happened," he told BBC1's Andrew Marr Show.

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
tvSeries celebrates 20th anniversary
Sport
Yaya Touré (left) and Bayern Munich’s Spanish defender Juan Bernat
football
Life and Style
Jack Cooksey goes for the grand unveiling - moments before dropping his new iPhone 6 on the floor
iphone launch
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Life and Style
Customers look at the new iPhones on display at the launch of the new Apple iPhone 6 and iphone 6 plus at the Apple IFC store in Hong Kong
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
Wembley Stadium
footballNews follows deal with Germany
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Sport
Andros Townsend is challenged by Vladimir Volkov
football
Arts and Entertainment
Rapper Jay Z performs on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury in 2008
musicSinger sued over use of the single-syllable sample in 'Run This Town'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Nursery assistants required across Cambridgeshire

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Nursery assistants re...

SEN 1:1 Teacher

£120 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you a qualified teache...

SEN Teachers and Support Staff

£50 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you an SEN Teacher or L...

English and Media Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: English & Media Teacher - ...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week