Cameron: ‘No turning back’ on EU vote

By BBC

The UK faces an “existential choice” in the EU referendum from which there would be “no turning back”, Prime Minister David Cameron has said.

Mr Cameron said choosing to leave the EU in Thursday’s vote would be a “big mistake” and lead to “debilitating uncertainty” for up to a decade.

However Michael Gove told the Sunday Telegraph the UK could become a “progressive beacon” by leaving the EU.

The Leave campaigner urged people to “vote for democracy”.

Mr Cameron said the EU vote was the “ultimate democracy” and represented what Labour MP Jo Cox, who was killed on Thursday in her West Yorkshire constituency, had stood for.

‘Watershed moment’

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, Mr Cameron, who is campaigning for Remain, said Mrs Cox had “embodied Britain at her best – a country that is decent and compassionate”.

The “irreversible” referendum was a “watershed moment” for the UK and a question “about the kind of country we want to be”, he said.

“Are we going to choose Nigel Farage’s vision – one which takes Britain backwards; divides rather than unites; and questions the motives of anyone who takes a different view,” Mr Cameron wrote.

“Or will we, instead, choose the tolerant, liberal Britain; a country that doesn’t blame its problems on other groups of people; one that doesn’t pine for the past, but looks to the future with hope, optimism and confidence? I think the answer will determine what our country feels like for a very long time.”

The PM said the economy “hangs in the balance”, with trade and investment set to suffer in the event of a vote for Leave and a “probable recession” that would leave Britain “permanently poorer”.

“Debilitating uncertainty – perhaps for a decade until things were sorted. Higher prices, lower wages, fewer jobs, fewer opportunities for young people… How could we knowingly vote for that? I say: don’t risk it,” he wrote.

Leaving the EU would also be a “one-off and permanent diminution in [Britain’s] standing in the world; an abject and self-imposed humiliation,” he argued.

Writing in the Sunday Express, Mr Cameron also said he understood “concerns about immigration” but said leaving the EU would be the “wrong way” to deal with the issue.

However in an interview with the Sunday Telegraph, Mr Gove appealed for confidence in a future country wholly run by elected MPs.

“People should vote for democracy and Britain should vote for hope,” he said.

He also rejected the suggestion leaving the EU would cause a recession: “There are economic risks if we leave, economic risks if we remain,” he told the paper.

“My argument is that whatever happens in the future, an independent Britain will be better able to cope with those strains.”

Analysis

BBC political correspondent Tom Bateman

The referendum campaign was reaching high levels of political acrimony when it was suspended due to the murder of Jo Cox.

The halt allowed for mourning and reflection over this shocking attack on an MP.

Now it is reset; both sides are again appealing to some core arguments – the economy and sovereignty.

But the events of last week have, for now at least, placed some of this discourse upon deeper foundations – with narratives from both sides over what the vote means for the kind of democracy we desire, and for the kind of society we want to be.

‘Eco through ages’

Meanwhile in an interview with the Sun on Sunday, leading Leave campaigner Boris Johnson said the UK had a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” and people had nothing to fear by “backing ourselves” and voting to leave the EU.

“If we do this, we’ll be speaking up for democracy not only in Britain but throughout Europe and it will be a fine thing that will echo through the ages,” he said.

Mr Johnson suggested a loss of autonomy had prevented politicians from keeping promises on immigration.

You can only “spike the guns of extremists” and those who are anti-immigrant by “taking back control”, he said.

He also set out what he would be do in the event of Brexit, saying his first priorities would include withdrawing from the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice and “seizing back control of our borders”.

‘We’re not quitters’

In a Mail on Sunday article, Chancellor George Osborne appealed for voters to back Remain, saying a vote to leave “would be the most terrible mistake for our country”.

“And it would not be in keeping with who we are as a people. Not the British way,” he wrote.

“When something isn’t perfect, like the EU, we get stuck in trying to improve it. We are not quitters.”

All campaigning was suspended for three days as a mark of respect following the killing of MP Mrs Cox.

Thomas Mair, who has been charged with her murder, appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Saturday and was remanded in custody.

He is next due to appear for a bail application hearing at the Old Bailey on Monday.

  

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