As jousting at various EU referendum-related events continued on Tuesday, Brussels reacted with unconcealed ennui at Brexit camp leader Boris Johnson’s remarks comparing the European Union with Hitler.
According to a new poll, 55% respondents now say they supported Britain to remain in the EU during the June 23 referendum, while 40% back the exit.
Raising security stakes, Prime Minister David Cameron said that a vote to leave would make Russian President Vladimir Putin and Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi happy.
But his position faced challenge from his minister for armed forces Penny Mordaunt, who believes Britain is more exposed to IS within the EU than outside it.
Bristling in Brussels, Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, condemned Johnson over his Hitler remarks: "Everyone in every country has the right to organise referendums and ask the hardest of questions. We, the advocates of the EU, also have the right and the obligation even to defend our vision of Europe”.
"But when I hear the EU being compared to the plans and projects of Adolf Hitler, I cannot remain silent. Such absurd arguments should be completely ignored if they had not been formulated by one of the most influential politicians of the ruling party”.
"Boris Johnson crossed the boundaries of rational discourse, demonstrating political amnesia…The EU can be blamed for many things, but it remains the most effective firewall against the ever dangerous and tragic conflicts among the nations of Europe”.
In London, Cameron sought to debunk nine myths of the Brexit camp while addressing business leaders. Asked about the impact on security of leaving the EU, he said: "You keep yourself safe not simply by having a border but by working with other countries ... I'm not saying it's the only thing that keeps us safe but it helps”.
"I would say to people, who do you believe about keeping us safe? The former head of MI5, the former head of MI6 or the people in the Leave campaign who do not have direct experience?"