29th Mar 2023

Cameron in final push, as polls show pro-EU swing

  • Surveys put support for the Leave and Remain camp on the UK's EU membership on a tie four days ahead of the vote (Photo: Abi Begum)

British prime minister David Cameron argued on Sunday (19 June) that Britons are not quitters and should vote to remain in the EU, as polls suggest a dead heat in the race four days ahead of the historic ballot on the UK's EU membership.

Cameron, speaking in a special edition of the BBC's Question Time show, invoked the memory of war-time prime minister Winston Churchill's decision in May 1940 to fight the Nazis.

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"He didn’t want to be alone, he wanted to be fighting with the French and with the Poles and with the others but he didn’t quit. He didn’t quit on Europe, he didn’t quit on European democracy, he didn’t quit on European freedom," Cameron said, in impassioned tones.

"I don’t think Britain at the end is a quitter. I think we stay and fight. That is what we should do," he said.

Cameron reiterated that the UK's economy would be harmed if Britons leave the EU, but could not defend his government's failed pledge to cut immigration to below 100,000 per year.

He also said the UK would not support Turkish accession in the next few years and that it was unlikely to happen anyway for decades.

The PM acknowledged that many voters were confused and that he needed to make a better case for staying in the EU.

Neck and neck

His plea to voters came as latests polls suggested a swing back towards support for the Remain camp in the wake of the shock murder of pro-EU Labour lawmaker Jo Cox on Thursday.

An Opinium/Observer poll put both sides on 44 percent, while 10 percent said they were undecided.

A YouGov poll for the Sunday Times gave the Remain camp 44 percent, a one point lead over Leave.

Another survey by Survation polled Remain at 45 percent and Leave at 42 percent, a reverse in th results from a few days ago.

Last week saw a strong surge for the Leave camp, ringing alarm bells across Europe.

YouGov's director, Anthony Wells said that the swing in polls was less likely due to the tragic murder of Cox, but rather to a hike in support for the status quo before the actual vote on 23 June.

Shock and awe

Both Remain and Leave campaigns resumed over the weekend after a two-day pause following the killing.

The prime minister sought to frame the debate on the referendum as a choice between tolerant Cox and intolerant Nigel Farage, the leader of the eurosceptic UK Independence Party.

Farage drew criticism after unveiling a poster last Thursday that showed a column of immigrants with the slogan: "Breaking point."

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Orsborne said the poster was reminiscent of 1930s fasicst propaganda.

Even the pro-Brexit justice minister Michael Gove criticised the campaign. "When I saw that poster I shuddered. I thought it was the wrong thing to do," he said.

As a reaction to the campaign, former Conservative chairwoman Sayeeda Warsi switched to the Remain camp. She said the Leave campaign was spreading “hate and xenophobia”.


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