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Business

Britain's Osborne appeals for UK to stay in EU

British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne has used his annual budget speech to say the country should vote in favor of staying in the EU in a June referendum. He warned of a "cocktail of risks" for the economy.

British finance minister George Osborne on Wednesday appealed to UK citizens not to vote to leave the EU in a June 23 referendum.

"I believe we should not put at risk all the hard work that the British people have done to make our country strong again," Osborne said as he delivered his annual budget speech to parliament.

He warned

a Brexit would usher in an extended period of uncertainty

regarding the precise terms of the UK's future relationship with the EU.

"This could have negative implications for activity via business and consumer confidence and might result in greater volatility in financial and other asset markets," the minister warned.

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Oil firms rejoice

Shares in British oil firms extended their gains Wednesday after Osborne announced changes to the tax system in the sector to provide relief for the industry as it struggled with a slump in crude oil prices.

The finance minister announced he would effectively abolish the petroleum revenue tax, while reducing the rate of a supplementary charge on oil and gas producers.

Osborne said the UK economy was set to grow slower than expected this year amid turbulence in financial markets. He predicted a 2-percent GDP expansion in 2016, down from the 2.4-percent increase forecast in November of last year.

hg/jd (Reuters, AFP)

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