LONDON: From telling Indian-origin voters at a Hindu temple in London—“Europe mein rehna hai” — to a series of interviews and articles in the Sunday news media, Prime Minister David Cameron was on over-drive to make the pro-EU case amidst a surge in polls for Brexit.
Harping on the sensitive issue of immigration saw the “Vote Leave” gain new converts last week, prompting the “Remain” in EU camp to launch renewed appeals. As intra-Conservative row turned worse, Cameron insisted the party will come together after the June 23 referendum on Britain’s future in the EU.
On Sunday, Cameron warned that the government may not be able to protect annual increases in the state pension, which is paid out to the elderly and rises in line with inflation. Britain has an ageing population, and pensioners are among the largest voter-groups.
Cameron told the widely-watched Andrew Marr Show on BBC that the government might not be able to protect spending on pensions, the National Health Service and defence in the long term if Britain leaves the EU.
He said Brexit could cause a “black hole” in the public finances, and added that “our economy would be smaller” if the UK left the single market leading to “difficult choices”. But the Vote Leave camp said this was “a frantic attempt to rescue a failing campaign”.
Terming Cameron’s claim on pensions as part of “Project -Fear”, Nigel Farage, UK Independence Party leader, said the British was tired of dire warnings about the risks of voting to leave the EU. “People are fed up of being threatened by David Cameron. People are beginning to put two fingers up to the political class.”
Asked if the government had got the campaign tone wrong by providing the public a barrage of statistics through leaflets and other media, Cameron said: “I totally accept that people are confused by having so many statistics and there is a lot of frustration because of that”.
“But I think it’s actually my job as prime minister, when you’ve got these warnings coming from the governor of the Bank of England, from the International Monetary Fund, it’s my responsibility to talk about them, I think it’s a hugely optimistic and positive campaign .”