Britain making plans in case euro fails: finance minister

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Britain is making contingency plans in case the European debt crisis causes the eurozone to collapse, finance minister George Osborne said on Friday.

Osborne's comments at a summit of the Group of 20 rich and emerging nations in the French resort of Cannes came as the bloc grapples with crises in Greece and Italy.

Asked if Britain, which is a member of the European Union but not of the 17-member eurozone, had a plan in place in case the single currency failed, Osborne said: "Britain and the British government prepares for all contingencies.

"You would expect us to do that, that is our responsibility to the British people. We do our planning," he said in broadcast interviews.

"We are dealing with our debts, dealing with our situation, but we are also planning and prepared for whatever the world and whatever the eurozone throws at us."

The Greek debt crisis has thrown the future of the euro into doubt, and a French minister has warned Greece will have to leave not only the eurozone but also the European Union unless it ratifies a debt rescue accord.

Osborne called on eurozone states to take responsibility but said other major economies must help shore up the global financial system.

"The eurozone have to face up to their responsibilities and stand behind their own currency. No one else can do that for them, including Britain," he said.

"Then the rest of the world, which includes Britain but also includes countries like China and Japan and the like, have to make sure that the international economic system is stable and well-funded, and that includes the IMF."

Sources at the G20 said the bloc would agree to boost the firepower of the International Monestary Fund in its final communique from the summit on Friday, but Osborne said there was still no "done deal", though he was hopeful of one.

© 2011 AFP

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