UK Top News

Schaeuble says British were "deceived" in Brexit campaign

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble takes part in a eurozone finance ministers meeting in Brussels, Belgium March 20, 2017. REUTERS/Yves Herman

BERLIN (Reuters) - British people were “endlessly lied to and deceived” in last year’s Brexit referendum campaign, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said on Friday.

Speaking in Berlin on the first anniversary of the Brexit vote, Schaeuble was scathing about the “leave” campaigners who persuaded a majority of voters to opt to quit the European Union.

“The Britons were endlessly lied to and deceived,” Schaeuble told a conference of family-run companies. When the Brexit campaigners “happened to be successful, the ones who did it ran away because they said they can’t take responsibility”.

The two sides in Britain’s referendum campaign swapped bitter accusations they were making misleading or untrue statements, such as the claim that leaving the EU would free up large sums for public health spending.

In the days after the vote, Prime Minister David Cameron, who called the referendum, resigned, and several prominent leave campaigners dropped out of the race to succeed him.

Schaeuble said the 70 years of growth and prosperity Europe had known since World War Two was not based on pure majoritarianism but on sustainable democratic models.

“(We need) not just mechanisms that consist of my promising something to a majority,” he said.

“Then you only have to look at the demographics to see that you’ll end up with endless debates about redistribution that lead to jealousy.”

Reporting by Michelle Martin and Thomas Escritt; editing by Andrew Roche