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Sweden's nationalist party backs EU Brexit

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Sweden Democrat leader Jimmie Åkesson pictured in 2015. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT
08:29 CET+01:00
The leader of the Sweden Democrats, Jimmie Åkesson, told his country's biggest TV debate show that there was "nothing negative" about leaving the EU.

Jimmie Åkesson weighed into the ongoing row about whether or not European Union members should leave the group while appearing on Swedish broadcaster SVT's 'Agenda' on Sunday night.

The nationalist, who has long spoken out against Sweden's EU membership, said he backed the Brexit campaign to get Britain to leave the 28-member bloc, which is hotting up as the UK prepares to hold a referendum on the issue.

He also argued that he wants Sweden to follow in its northern European neighbour's footsteps, if it decides to quit the union.

"I really hope we get the opportunity to hold a referendum in Sweden eventually," he told SVT.

"I see nothing negative about leaving," the anti-immigration leader added, arguing that the EU was a "federation" that took too much power away from national governments.

However other senior Swedish politicians are rallying to show their support for the UK remaining in the European Union.

Liberal party leader Jan Björklund said on Sunday that he viewed the EU as "the most successful collaboration project in history" and argued that "more cooperation between countries, not less cooperation" was needed on issues such as fighting terrorism, Russian aggression and avoiding another economic crisis.

Sweden's former Prime Minister and Moderate party leader Fredrik Reinfeldt has warned that a Brexit could have a negative impact on Sweden, which currently shares a similar approach to EU membership as the UK, welcoming the benefits of free trade without signing up to the euro.

"Within the EU, our opinions, which correspond with those of the British, in terms of trade, the EU's internal market, budget issues and the condition to live without having the euro, will sharply lose value," he was quoted as saying by Swedish newspaper Expressen.

Sweden's Social Democrat-Green coalition also backs the campaign to keep Britain in the UK, with Foreign Minister Margot Wallström telling The Local last year that it would be a "very serious blow to the entire EU if they were to leave".

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Meanwhile business groups in Sweden are beginning to speak out in fear of the UK giving up its membership of the European Union.

"The UK is one of Sweden's most important trading partners and Brexit would over time erode that relationship to the cost of billions for both parties," Per Tryding, deputy CEO of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Southern Sweden, told The Local last week.

The referendum takes place on June 23rd. British expats who have been living in Sweden or elsewhere for less than 15 years have the right to vote in person, by proxy or by post.

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