David Cameron rejects scare tactics accusation
Cameron running ‘relentless campaign of fear’, says pro-Brexit minister
Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon giving a speech on the EU to the Resolution Foundation at St John’s Smith Square in London. Photograph: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire
David Cameron has rejected accusations of scaremongering over the EU referendum after one of his ministers said he was conducting a “relentless campaign of fear” and Scotland’s first minister warned him against fighting a “miserable, negative, fear-based” campaign.
Speaking to students in Ipswich yesterday, the prime minister made an upbeat case for Britain remaining in the EU, insisting he was not engaged in “Project Fear”.
“The only project I’m interested in is Project Fact. Project Fact is about saying: ‘Stay in and you know what you’ll get’,” he said.
Leave campaigners accused Downing Street of descending to new levels of scaremongering after a cabinet office report warned of 10 years of uncertainty if Britain left.
The report said unravelling Britain’s EU membership and negotiating new arrangements for trade, the economy and the rights of Britons living elsewhere in Europe would take that long.
It was uncertain if the two million British people now living in other EU countries would continue to have access to pensions, healthcare and other public services, the report said. Chris Grayling, one of six cabinet ministers who are campaigning to leave the EU, dismissed the report’s claims as ludicrous.
“People will not be impressed with this relentless campaign of fear. Claims that it will take twice as long to sort out a free-trade deal with the EU as it did to win World War two are clearly ludicrous. There’s a free-trade zone from Iceland to the Russian border and Britain will still be part of it after we vote Leave,” he said.
Earlier, Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon warned the prime minister the negative tone could backfire. Addressing more than 700 in central London, Ms Sturgeon said the prime minister should heed the experience of Scotland’s independence referendum campaign.
Opinion polls show greater support in Scotland for remaining in the EU than elsewhere in the UK, and Ms Sturgeon said Scots understood there was no contradiction between independence and pooling sovereignty. She repeated that, if the UK votes to leave the EU but most Scots vote to remain, there could be an unstoppable demand for a second independence referendum.
Businessman Declan Ganley called on Eurosceptics to back Britain’s continued membership of the EU, arguing that leaving would strengthen the “mandarins” of Brussels.
“Brussels’s greatest fear is not that their opponents will walk away, but that their opponents will commit to dislodging and replacing them. Brexit, however, will not replace them – in fact, it will entrench them,” he wrote on the website CapX. “So given the choice, I believe that Britain should stay in and fight.”