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EU referendum: Beckham bends it for Vote Remain

world Updated: Jun 21, 2016 18:30 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
EU referendum

British football icon David Beckham said his experience of playing across Europe made him realise the importance of a “vibrant and connected world”.(Reuters)

Football icon David Beckham on Tuesday came out in support of Britain remaining in the EU in Thursday’s vote, while Scotland first minister Nicola Sturgeon admitted last week’s murder of MP Jo Cox will impact the outcome of the referendum.

Urging people to vote to stay in the European Union, Beckham, also a Unicef ambassador, said Britain should be “facing the problems of the world together and not alone”.

He wrote on his Facebook page he respected those who supported Brexit, but insisted Britain’s future was best served by remaining in the 28-member bloc.

Beckham said his experience of playing across Europe made him realise the importance of a “vibrant and connected world”. The Brexit camp responded to Beckham’s appeal by saying it had the support of other footballers such as Sol Campbell.

According to Sturgeon, voters will be increasingly disgusted at the “poisonous” nature of the campaign after Cox’s death. Prime Minister David Cameron was accused on Monday of exploiting her death to support the pro-EU cause.

Recalling her unease with a poster released by UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage, showing a stream of migrants with the words “Breaking Point”, Sturgeon told The Guardian: “I think it (Cox’s death) inevitably will (affect voting decisions). It’s too early to say whether it will have a direct impact on the result.

“I think there was a bit of disgust setting in on Thursday morning about the Farage poster. Obviously nobody knows whether the debate around the referendum had anything to do with what happened to Jo, but the sense that the debate had become a little bit poisonous and a little bit intolerant and focused on fear of foreigners as opposed to legitimate debate about immigration, I suspect what happened will have intensified those feelings.”

Cameron’s pro-Brexit former advisor Steve Hilton created a flutter by claiming on Tuesday that civil servants had told the prime minister in 2012 that it was “impossible” to meet his flagship pledge of reducing net migration to “tens of thousands instead of hundreds of thousands”.

Hilton, who worked in Downing Street until 2012, said Cameron was told “explicitly and directly” that EU free movement rules meant net migration could not be reduced below 100,000.

However, the claim was rejected by Cameron, and Downing Street questioned why Hilton had chosen to make his comments for the first time days before Thursday’s referendum.