It would be extremely serious if Britain leaves the European Union, prime minister Mark Rutte told a radio show on Friday evening.
The Netherlands has always supported British membership of the union and considers the country to be a trusted partner, Rutte said. Losing Britain would not only be bad for the EU but bad for Britain itself, Rutte said.
The Dutch prime minister was commenting on the cancelled speech on Europe which British prime minister David Cameron had been due to give in Amsterdam on Friday morning.
The speech was cancelled because of the Algerian hostage crisis.
All member states
Although the British press may have the impression the Netherlands, like Britain, would like a different relationship with the EU, this is not the case, Rutte said.
We don’t want a unique relationship with the EU,’ he said. ‘What we want is to have talks at a union level, with the 27 members, to decide what tasks can be better done in Brussels and what in the national capitals.’
Rutte said he was prepared to become involved in efforts to retain British membership.