The EU is beginning to "peel away" and could "implode" when the UK splits from the political and economic union, Liam Fox has warned. The International Trade Secretary also claimed that a generation of young Europeans will be sacrificed "on the altar of the single currency".
Fox made the comments as part of an interview with The Spectator magazine, where he predicted the UK will exit the EU by the time of the next general election, scheduled for 2020.
"The architecture is beginning to peel away. It's going to sacrifice at least one generation of young Europeans on the altar of the single currency, and you can only rip out the social fabric from so much of Europe before it starts imploding," he said.
"That's the problem with the European Union. And with Britain out of it, they're still going to have to confront exactly the same problems."
The top Conservative also claimed Germany should be worried about a Brexit. "I guess Germany worries, because we were their main allies in bringing some economic rigour to the system," he said.
"If I were a German politician I would be worried that, without Britain, Germany has the potential to become the greatest ATM in global history."
The comments come ahead of the Tory Party conference this weekend (2 October) in Birmingham, where Theresa May, Fox, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Brexit Secretary David Davis will take part in a "making a success of Brexit session".
May has recently met European Parliament President Martin Schulz and European Council President Donald Tusk to discuss the issue. But no formal talks between the parties will start until the government has triggered Article 50, the official mechanism to split from the EU.
May is expected to make in 2017. Her government, meanwhile, has established the Brexit Department, led by Davis, and an International Trade Department, led by Fox, to start work on bi-lateral trade agreements.
The EU has its own Brexit task-force, headed by French politician Michel Barnier and German trade official Sabine Weyand. Senior MEP and former prime minister of Belgium Guy Verhofstadt will lead negotiations from the European Parliament.