Sunday

18th Nov 2018

Cameron pleads with voters to stay in EU

  • "Think of the hopes and dreams of your children and grandchildren. They can't undo the decision we take," Cameron said. (Photo: Georgina Coupe/Crown Copyright)

British prime minister David Cameron threw all the weight of his office into the referendum campaign in a last effort to convince voters to remain in the EU.


"We will be stronger if we stay, we will be weaker if we leave," he said, adding that there would be "no going back".

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  • The latest polls indicate a very uncertain outcome (Photo: Reuters)


In a statement read in front of the door of his official residence, 10 Downing Street, on Tuesday afternoon (21 June), Cameron spoke "very directly and personally" to voters.

He referred to his six years in power, his "experience" and the decisions taken "behind that door … to protect your country, you and your children" to explain why he feels "so strongly that Britain should remain in Europe".

Accused by the Leave side of running a "fear-project" campaign, he spoke of the heavy responsibility of his function and said that "every living prime minister" was, like him, convinced that "we are better off inside the EU than out on our own."

'If we vote out, that's it'

He told voters that as prime minister, his first responsibility was to keep them safe.

"I would not be standing there if I thought the EU was preventing me from doing that, it's the opposite," he said, adding that he had seen "first hand in these dangerous times how we can cooperate with our friends and neighbours."

In a message clearly designed to appeal to older voters, who are tilting towards the Leave vote, Cameron appealed to people's desire for safety and stability for themselves and their offspring.

"Think of the hopes and dreams of your children and grandchildren," he told them. "They can't undo the decision we take."

"If we vote out, that's it. The next generation would have to live with the consequences and for far longer than us," he said.

Cameron said that Thursday's "momentous decision" was above all about economic security.

He warned that leaving the EU would lead "in the short term [to] recession, in the medium term [to] a decade of uncertainty and in the long term [to] living with fewer jobs, lower wages and higher prices".

'500 million customers on our doorstep'

"These are risks to our families and we should not take them," he said.

Cameron did not mention migration, an issue which has been highlighted by the Leave camp, but he reminded voters of the importance of the EU's single market.

He said the single market put "500 million customers on our doorstep" and that it was "a source of so many jobs, so much trade and such wealth of opportunities for our young people"

The prime minister also appealed to the pride of voters. He said that Britain was a "special country" and that staying in the EU would "amplify our power".

"If I felt that remaining in the EU diminished us I would recommend that we vote to leave," he told voters.

"Britons don't quit," he added, repeating an expression he used in a TV debate on Sunday.

He indirectly answered the Leave campaign's slogan - "Let's take back control" - by warning that if the UK left, the EU "would be making decisions about us but without us."

"We wouldn't be there"

"Our neighbours would go on meeting and take decisions that profoundly affect us, but we wouldn't be there," he said.



The word "neighbours", used several times as well as "families" and "children" was also designed to have an emotional impact in the last days of a campaign where the Leave side has been better at appealing to personal feelings.

Cameron chose to spoke as the latest polls, two days before the referendum, indicate a very uncertain outcome.

A poll published Tuesday afternoon put Remain ahead of Leave, with 45 percent against 44 percent and 11 percent undecided. Another poll published earlier gave 44 percent to Leave and 42 percent to Remain.

On Thursday, Cameron told voters, it would be "only you and that polling booth". He made a final plea: "For you, for your family, for the future of our country, vote Remain".

Column / Brexit Briefing

Leach the poison from the political well

At the end of a campaign, in which hyperbole, exaggeration and flat-out lies have masqueraded as debate, it’s still not too late for a positive case for EU membership or leaving the bloc to be made.

Brexit: EU prepares for the morning after

EU institutions have prepared a Brexit crisis agenda for the first hours and day after the vote in order to avoid a "messy" divorce if the UK opts to leave.

The UK referendum: a timetable

Forty six million voters to decide on future of British EU membership on Thursday. EU leaders expected to give first reaction at Friday lunchtime.

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