Cameron targets young voters during speech in Ipswich

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UK Prime Minister declared his campaign is not “Project Fear” but rather “Project Fact”

Por: Ana Muñoz García

  • Cameron vowed for in campaign in Ipswich, arguing that EU membership helps UK to be strong in the world and “to get things done”.
  • He considered the referendum to be more important than general election: “this is a decision for a generation, potentially a decision for life”.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron delivered a speech to students at University Campus Suffolk in Ipswich, advocating for the in vote only at the second week of the referendum campaign. He targeted young voters saying that the referendum, regardless of the opinion on it, would be a “day to put in the agenda”.

During the Q&A he rejected accusations of “Project Fear”, declaring his campaign was rather for “Project Fact”. However, Cameron did highlight that should Brexit take place there would without doubt be uncertainty; reminding how long it took Canada or Switzerland to reach free trade agreements with the EU. “Major economies would negotiate with EU first and the UK second”, “This is not about raising concerns and worries which aren’t there – they are real concerns and worries based on fact”.

Cameron’s campaign is not only about economy anyway. He puts great emphasis on the bonds of EU membership and seeks to appeal to the European sentiment: “Of course we’re a great country and a great power but I would argue that our membership of the EU also helps us to be strong in the world and to get things done”. The new deal negotiated with Donald Tusk would grant UK sovereignty within a European Union that acknowledges not every state is in for an “ever closer union”. These concessions could prompt a positive result in the referendum that will likely take place on June 23.

The outcome of UK-EU negotiations

Negotiations with Donald Tusk have proved fruitful and Cameron sought to achieve some of his key demands, namely the emergency brake. This would allow UK to restrict some in-work benefits for EU migrants for four years, and while having itself a duration of seven years it could be successful in turning the UK into a less attractive destination for migrants. Child-payment benefits for children of EU workers who live in less wealthy European countries would also be restrained, although that concession would only apply for newly arrived workers.

Mr. Cameron also achieved an exemption from the bloc’s push for an “ever-closer union”, and got assurance that concerns of non-eurozone members would be heard in Europe. National Parliaments would be granted more powers to block EU initiatives, and so major sovereignty would be given back to countries. One must remind the issue of sovereignty was one of the central claims for the out campaign that repeatedly stated Britons had ceded too much sovereignty to EU institutions.

“I believe that this is enough for me to recommend in the referendum that the UK stay in the European Union, having the best of both worlds” said Mr. Cameron. He regards leaving the EU as a dangerous thing to do in an uncertain world, while insisting that EU is a great partner for cooperation on crime, cyberattacks and terrorism. According to Cameron, staying in it would be good in terms of national economy and security.

Now the battle turns to home. Many senior conservatives oppose membership in the EU, believing UK would be better off if winning back sovereignty. Doubts that the agreement might not be binding have already arose between main eurosceptics, and some even discredit Cameron’s campaign. The last example has been London Mayor Boris Johnson, who says “Project Fact” is “baloney”.

The remain campaign, divided

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has recently stressed he is “not on the same side of the argument” as Cameron despite both fighting for the remain campaign to win, affirms The Guardian. Corbyn said the deal about in-work benefits for migrants is irrelevant for the matter of the referendum, which he regards as much broader: “I want to see a Europe that is about protecting our environment and ensuring we have sustainable industries across Europe, such as the steel industry, and high levels of jobs and social protection across Europe. His agenda is the very opposite.” The Labour leader also criticised Cameron for the lack of agreement regarding refugees: “There has to be an agreement all across Europe that they all take a proportion of them”.

Despite both supporting membership in EU, both leaders are far from being “allies” in the referendum. On the one hand, Corbyn does not see himself sharing a platform with the Prime Minister. He has been accused by the media of secretly supporting Brexit, although he publicly denied. On the other hand, Cameron does not seem to be happy with Corbyn at all. He even joked about his dress sense during an interview, assuring Corbyn that his mother could give him good advice about what to wear. Corbyn would afterwards answer to this jibe: “My mother gave lots of advice and she said stand up for what you believe in”.

Would Brexit prompt a new nationalistic wave in Scotland?

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon came close to promising a second independence vote if Britain votes to leave during an interview last Sunday, and only one day after that the party’s Westminster leader, Angus Robertson, said Scots “will demand” a referendum if they are “forced out” of the EU.

The European question turned out to be a key issue for the Scottish referendum. Although some supported the theory that in the event of the independence of Scotland the country would automatically become member of the European Union, Manuel Barrosso declared in 2012 this would not be the case. Although the European Commission proposed to answer this debate, the UK government decided not to issue that request. The “NO” finally imposed itself over nationalist ideals with a tight difference of 10.6%. For sure, EU membership did play a role in the results.

However, some analists believe the idea that a UK vote to leave the EU would boost support for independence is very fragile. Although Scotland has an overall deep support for EU, the wide opinion in UK is much more evenly divided.

UKIP, a serious problem for Cameron during last general election

The Prime Minister is now the most solid pillar of the remain campaign. The separatist movements amongst which Nigel Farage’s UKIP stands out prominently constituted a major threat to David Cameron’s triumph in last general election. The promise of a referendum was a tactical move to seize votes for UKIP during last elections. This is the reason why Cameron has had to dedicate much of his time in power to European affairs, especially to negotiations with European leaders.

On February 20 Cameron confirmed the date for the referendum, which is likely to be held on 23 June. The announcement comes after the Cabinet has agreed in campaign to stay, in spite of several ministers openly supporting Brexit. The Prime Minister has assured they will be able to campaign freely. In an address to the nation, he said: “We are approaching one of the biggest decisions this country will face in our lifetimes: whether to remain in a reformed EU or to leave. The choice goes to the heart of the kind of country we want to be and the future we want for our children”, said The Guardian.

Ana Muñoz García,  oriunda de Linares, cursa el segundo año del grado de Relaciones Internacionales en la Universidad Rey Juan Carlos de Madrid .

Desde muy pequeña mostró gran interés en los idiomas y en viajar, lo que la llevó a optar por el terreno de lo internacional. Enamorada también de las letras, especialmente de la filosofía y la política, decidió en 2015 iniciar sus estudios jurídicos.

Las grandes pasiones que para ella suponen la literatura, el aprendizaje, el contacto con otras culturas y sobre todo el periodismo, la impulsaron a colaborar con el periódico El Internacionalista, en el que actualmente la vemos escribir mensualmente.

Imagen obtenida de www.gettyimages.com

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