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11th Dec 2023

Lords: Cameron should convey positive Yes message

  • Cameron should not play to fear, but portray a positive vision, Lords say (Photo: The European Union)

Prime minister David Cameron should lead the Yes campaign with a positive message instead of one that scares the British public over the consequences of Britain leaving the European Union, a committee of Lords has said, less than three months before the in-out referendum.

The UK government's case for remaining a member of the EU should be “based on an inclusive and positive vision of the UK’s role in a reformed EU”, they said in a report published by the House of Lords on Wednesday (30 March).

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“A campaign based upon narrow national economic self-interest, alongside fear of the alternatives to membership, would be insufficient.”

Some political opponents had already accused Cameron of scaremongering when he said in February that a French migrant camp known as the Jungle could move to the UK in the case of a British exit, or Brexit.

Earlier this month, he also warned that a Brexit would trigger an economic shock that was not worth it.

“Let’s just remember what a shock really means. It means pressure on the pound sterling. It means jobs being lost. It means mortgage rates might rise. It means businesses closing. It means hard-working people losing their livelihoods”, Cameron said.

On 23 June 2016, the British voters will decide whether their country should remain as one of the 28 members of the European bloc, or leave.

Cameron will campaign for a Yes, after negotiating with his fellow government leaders a “new settlement for the United Kingdom within the European Union”.

The Lords noted in their report that the UK-focused title is a “misnomer”, since the UK-EU deal, if implemented, would have “far-reaching effects upon the EU as a whole”.

They also noted that the UK's devolved governments of Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, would have liked to been consulted more in the settlement negotiating process.

Carwyn Jones, first minister for Wales, told the committee that the Welsh Government “had not been involved in the process of establishing the UK’s negotiating position, but instead had learned about it through the media”.

His Scottish counterpart, Nicola Sturgeon, was frustrated that her government was only informed, but not involved.

The report also highlights that Brexit would have practical implications for Northern Ireland, which shares a land border with the Republic of Ireland.

But a political crisis among governing parties in Northern Ireland had somewhat distracted the UK government's engagement, it said.

“We are concerned that, partly as a result of the problems within the power-sharing institutions in Northern Ireland, these have not yet received the attention they deserve,” they said.

The House of Lords report was published a day after US treasury secretary Jacob Lew said Brexit would hurt the world economy.

“I don't think it's good for the European, or the British economy, or the global economy,” he said.

The latest Ipsos Mori poll, conducted 19-22 March, suggested 41 percent would back Brexit against 49 percent who would vote to remain in the EU. Around a third of the 1,023 respondents said they could still change their minds.

The poll results also suggested that if the UK votes No, 48 percent of the respondents believe Cameron should step down as PM, while 44 percent said he could stay on.

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