London: A referendum on Britain`s membership of the European Union would add to economic uncertainty, Foreign Secretary William Hague said in an opinion piece.
"The sudden holding of a referendum on leaving the EU would add to economic uncertainty at a time when businesses need all the certainty and confidence they can get," he wrote in an early edition of Saturday`s Daily Telegraph.
The European issue, which blighted previous Conservative governments, could expose party rifts again on Monday when a parliamentary debate will decide whether the coalition government should hold a referendum on Britain`s membership of the European Union.
Eurosceptics within Prime Minister David Cameron`s Conservative Party are threatening open rebellion after becoming disappointed by his failure to get tough on Europe.
While there is no immediate danger of Britain pulling out of the EU, the non-binding debate is a sign of the right-wing using the euro zone`s financial crisis to demand Britain rethinks its dealings with the 27-nation EU trading bloc.
EU leaders are to meet on Sunday to see if they can agree a comprehensive plan to resolve the two-year-old debt crisis, with another summit scheduled for Wednesday.
Nick Clegg, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, the junior party in the coalition government, has also rejected a referendum.
"As a Conservative, I want to bring powers back from Europe, as we set out in our election manifesto," Hague wrote. "But a referendum on Britain`s membership of the EU, especially at this time of profound economic uncertainty, is not the answer.”
"Nothing would do more to help our economic recovery than a resolution of the euro zone`s difficulties, while its disorderly break-up would have a very serious impact on our economy."
Other members of the Conservative leadership are expected to urge the party to vote against a motion calling for a referendum on whether Britain should stay in the EU, leave or renegotiate its terms of membership.