WarrenBuffett warned that the U.K.'s potential exit from the European Union woulddeal a major blow to the 28-state bloc, saying that it would be the equivalentof Virginia breaking off from the U.S.' original 13 colonies.
The U.K.is preparing for a June referendum on its EU membership, following years ofdebate over whether the union's benefits are worth the added bureaucracy andimpact on the nation's sovereignty. President Barack Obama has urged the U.K.to remain in the EU, and Buffett during an appearance on CNBC took a similarview.
"Amajor player saying, 'We've tried this for a while and we'd rather go italone,' it's a major factor," the Berkshire Hathaway Inc. chairman, president and CEO saidof the so-called Brexit. "The world doesn't come down or anything, but itwould be a big step backward."
Buffett,who has criticized the EU in the past, added that his opposition to the U.K.'spossible exit does not mean the coalition is perfect. The EU needs to berestructured, he said, to better account for the differences in the needs andcapabilities of its various countries.
"Iwill be surprised if it lasts in something very close to its present form for along, long time," Buffett said. "We've seen strains and cracks, and Idon't think they've been permanently corrected."
U.K.Prime Minister David Cameron announced the referendum soon after hisConservative Party won the 2015 general election, fulfilling a campaignpromise. Cameron nevertheless believes that the U.K. should remain in the EU.