Mario Draghi wants the UK to stay in the European Union as he unveils date for big bazooka

Jake Cordell
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Super Mario wants the UK to stay in the EU
Super Mario wants the UK to stay in the EU (Source: Getty)

Mario Draghi has explicitly called on UK voters to reject Brexit and choose to stay in the EU in the 23 June referendum.

The president of the European Central Bank (ECB), speaking in Vienna this afternoon, did not hedge his bets, saying point blank: "The UK should remain in the EU.

"The EU will benefit from its permanence and the UK will benefit also. The UK and the Eurozone are mutually beneficial," Draghi added.

Nevertheless, Draghi, dubbed Super Mario for his drastic attempt to save the euro, said that the ECB was preparing for the event that the UK decides to leave.

"The ECB is ready for all contingencies," Draghi said.

He was speaking at the latest monetary policy meeting of the ECB's governing council. The bank decided to hold its headline interest rates unchanged, including the deposit rate at minus 0.4 per cent, and keep its quantitative easing programme at €80bn (£62bn) a month.

Read more: The only "logical" answer to Brexit: Declare London a city state

Growth and inflation forecasts across the Eurozone have also been nudged up by the ECB following a strong first quarter. Draghi said he now expects the area to grow by 1.6 per cent this year, compared to predictions of 1.4 per cent made in March.

The ECB also confirmed that it will embark on its purchase of corporate bonds as part of quantitative easing on 8 June. Investment grade debt at companies based in the Eurozone is eligible to be snapped up by the bank in its attempt to drive down yields and spark borrowing, consumption and inflation across the single currency bloc.

Draghi also discussed the latest Greek bailout deal, saying the ECB will look at including Greek debt in its financial operations later this year, but it will not be included in the first round of targeted longer-term refinancing operations (TLTRO) being started on 22 June.

He also reiterated his customary call for national governments to introduce structural reforms and presented the latest evidence of signs that the ECB's policies are working.