Europe is 'sleepwalking towards civil unrest', says Armed Forces minister Penny Mordaunt
Britain must quit the EU to stop Europe "sleepwalking" into conflict between its member states, Armed Forces minister Penny Mordaunt has declared.
In an interview with The House magazine, the senior Tory said the effects of austerity across the eurozone and the migrant crisis had created "tremendous potential for civil unrest".
She said a Brexit could help to "wake up the EU" and pull it back from the brink - otherwise "it is going to end very badly indeed".
Her dramatic comments are the first time a government minister has spoken of the potential for conflict between European countries during the increasingly-fraught referendum campaign.
Ms Mordaunt said: "One reason why I decided to Leave is because I think it’s the only route open to us to get both the better deal that we need to thrive – but also to try and wake up the EU from what it’s currently sleepwalking into, which is a disaster.
"The suffering that it is putting on certain member states because it can't get its act together over the euro, that forced harmonisation, is horrific, and is just the sort of thing that is going to lead to those countries not thriving, but failing.
"Take a look at what’s happening on the continent now. The tremendous potential for civil unrest. The tremendous ill feeling built up in Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, because of the forced harmonisation in the eurozone, the tremendous austerity.
"Now with the migrant crisis added to that and the behaviour of particular nation states you have a real unrest, a political reaction to that with the rise of far-right parties, again causing further unrest – between cultures, between nations.
"The continent is fragmenting. People are taking back control against the EU’s rules to try and get some control over the situation, to try and protect their state’s interests. So it is fragmenting now. The dominoes are already tumbling. And we need to help Europe realise this and get a grip.
"I think us leaving will not just make us safer more secure and give us what we need to thrive, it will enable Europe to really start to reform. And without that it is going to end very badly indeed.
“I think it will provide an opportunity for other member states to get what they need to thrive, and to get the EU to start to work for the benefit of its membership and not result in what we see at the moment.”
Ms Mordaunt also said the referendum campaign was not a "fair fight" because the Remain camp had the "entire weight of the Government machine" behind it.
“We are absolutely the underdog," she said. "We will have to work twice as hard to get our voices heard, we are reliant on volunteers delivering stuff as opposed to taxpayer funded door-to-door deliveries.
"But we knew it was going to be like that – and we’re up for this fight."