LONDON (Reuters) - Former Conservative Prime Minister John Major said on Saturday that the campaign for Britain to leave the European Union is built on fantasy and is putting the country's interests at grave risk.
Writing in the Sunday Telegraph newspaper ahead of a June referendum on EU membership, Major said it would be "verging on the reckless" for Britain to leave the 28-member bloc.
In a limited extract from his piece released by the paper, Major said supporters of leaving are exercising "self deception to the point of delusion" when they insist Britain can quit the EU and then renegotiate trade deals to its advantage,
He adds: "Their argument is that the EU needs the UK market more than we need theirs. This is at best disingenuous, more bluntly it is fantasy."
He said Britain already enjoyed exclusion from some aspects of the EU that are politically unpopular at home such as the Schengen open borders agreement on free movement of peoples.
"It would surely be perverse to turn our back on these advantages and replace them with serious risks that alarm our international friends," he added.
Major, whose own premiership in the 1990s was plagued by disputes within his party over Europe, was the last Conservative Prime Minister before current incumbent David Cameron who is campaigning for Britain to remain in the EU.
Reporting by Stephen Addison; Editing by David Gregorio