BRITAIN will soon be forced to scrap the pound and join the euro, one of Germany’s most senior figures said yesterday.
In a chilling threat to UK sovereignty, German finance minister Wolfgang Schauble predicted that all Europe would one day use the single currency. “It will happen perhaps faster than some in the British Isles currently believe,” he said.
His sinister warning followed the emergence of a secret German plan to build a powerful new economic government for the eurozone and block an EU referendum in Britain.
A leaked German foreign ministry memo detailed plans for a new European Monetary Fund. It also claimed the EU’s treaty could be altered to centralise more power without triggering a vote.
In a further sign of growing German supremacy within the EU, David Cameron was yesterday rebuffed by Chancellor Angela Merkel in talks over how to tackle the euro crisis.
Last night British opponents of the EU were horrified by the bellicose threat to Britain’s economic independence.
Tory MP Peter Bone said: “I would be happy to have a bet with the German finance minister that the euro will disappear before the pound. It is a completely absurd suggestion that will never happen.”
Fellow Tory backbencher Douglas Carswell said: “It is a tragedy that a continent of millions of hard-working people is run by clowns like this.”
And UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage said: “This German bullying is deeply unpleasant and the sooner we leave the EU the better.”
Dr Schauble, who has used a wheelchair since being shot in an assassination attempt in 1990, is nicknamed “Dr Strangelove” in diplomatic circles.
In his astonishing outburst yesterday, he insisted he “respected” Britain’s decision to remain outside the euro. But he claimed that the UK would ultimately not be able to resist the tide of history.
His warning came amid a furious outpouring of anti-British sentiment in Berlin. Top-selling newspaper Bild asked: “What is England still doing in the EU?” while another paper branded Britain “the sick empire”.
Dr Schauble’s remarks came before the frosty meeting between Mr Cameron and Mrs Merkel in Berlin yesterday.
The German Chancellor rejected outright Mr Cameron’s opposition to a new EU-wide financial tax that would have a devastating impact on the City of London.
And she refused to be persuaded by his call for the European Central Bank to support the euro. Money markets took a dip after their failure to agree.
Despite smiles and protestations about their close “friendship”, their awkward body language at a news conference betrayed bitter differences.
Last night a YouGov poll for Prospect magazine showed 51 per cent of Britons would vote to leave the EU in a referendum while only 32 per cent would vote to stay in.