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S&P lowers UK outlook over Brexit fears

Ratings agency Standard & Poor's has cut its outlook for the United Kingdom. The move came on the back of the government's decision to hold a referendum on whether the nation should stay in the EU or not.

Standard & Poor's announced Friday it had lowered the outlook for the UK's government debt to "negative" from "stable."

S&P had been the only major ratings agency to still grant Britain a top-notch sovereign assessment, but said the country was at increased risk of losing its triple-A credit rating following Prime Minister David Cameron's decision to hold a referendum on leaving the 28-member European Union.

"The UK government's decision to hold a referendum on EU membership by 2017 indicates that economic policymaking could be at risk of being more exposed to party politics than we had previously anticipated," Standard & Poor's said in a statement.

Wary industry leaders

"[It's] similar to the situation in the US when we lowered that credit rating in 2011," the agency added.

Industry associations in the UK had previously

warned of dire economic consequences

, should Britain leave the EU.

"Business must be crystal clear that membership is in our national interest," the president of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), Mike Rake, said in a statement. "The question is not whether the UK would survive outside the EU, but whether it would thrive."

hg/cjc (Reuters, AFP)

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