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Boris and Brexit campaigners 'making it up as they go along'

Published 15/03/2016

David Cameron repeated claims that leaving the EU would push up prices in the shops and put jobs at risks
David Cameron repeated claims that leaving the EU would push up prices in the shops and put jobs at risks

Boris Johnson and the Leave campaign are "making it up as they go along", David Cameron said as he told t he people of the UK they face a "profound" decision about the country's future in the European Union referendum.

Marking 100 days until the June 23 vote, the Prime Minister said the result of the referendum would have an effect on family finances, jobs and the UK's place on the global stage.

He accused the Leave campaign of "taking a risk" with people's livelihoods by advocating a change in the relationship with the UK's trading partners.

London Mayor Mr Johnson has suggested the UK could take on "associate membership" of the EU if it votes to leave, in an arrangement similar to that currently applied to Turkey.

But Mr Cameron accused the pro-Brexit camp of shifting their position on the kind of relationship they envisage for the UK with the EU after a vote to Leave.

Speaking at a campaign event in Felixstowe, the Prime Minister said: "Those people who want us to leave, they cannot tell us what alternative they would put in place.

"If we stay, we know we have unhindered access to that market of 500 million people. The people who want us to go, to start with they said 'We are not going to tell you what the alternative would be', then they said they wanted full access to the single market - but that means you get the free movement of people and you have to pay into that single market without any say about what the rules are - what's the point of that?

"Then they said they want a Canada-style free trade deal, but a Canada-style free trade deal means you don't have full access for your financial services, you have to pay tariffs on your cars, you don't have full access for your farmers' produce, so it's not a great deal for Britain.

"Canada is a country 4,000 miles away from the continent of Europe that does 10% of its trade with the EU. We are a country just 20 miles away from the continent of Europe and we do 50% of our trade with the European Union.

"So a Canada deal is not the right deal for us.

"Today, the leaders of the Leave campaign are saying they don't really want a Canada deal at all, that they weren't right about that. They are literally making it up as they go along.

"They are rolling the dice, they are taking a risk and they are taking a risk with people's jobs, taking a risk with families' finances and I don't think that is good enough for the British people."

Mr Johnson has previously appeared to endorse Canada's arrangements with the EU as a potential model for Britain in the future.

Last Friday he said: "I think we can strike a deal, as the Canadians have done, based on trade and getting rid of tariffs. It's a very, very bright future I see."

But during his LBC phone-in on Tuesday he backed the idea of an "associate member" relationship with the EU.

Turkey took associate status in 1963, as a result of an agreement to create a customs union with a view to progressing towards full membership. Negotiations on full membership began in 2005, but have been mired in delays amid opposition from many parts of the EU.

Mr Johnson said: " William Hague wrote a very interesting piece the other day suggesting that there could be a future for Britain joining with Turkey as not an EU member, but an associate member. I thought that was interesting.

"The only way we can achieve that is for Britain to vote to leave and to strike this new relationship, which people don't believe can be done. It's not pie in the sky, it's the way forward - do a free trade deal, take back control over borders, over the way we run our trade system, the way we run virtually half the legislation in this country."

Mr Cameron said voters would hold the future of the country in their hands when they go to the ballot box on June 23.

"You are holding in your hand a decision that is going to have a profound effect on families' finances, people's jobs and the kind of country that we are in the next 50 years," he said.

"I'm absolutely convinced that the right decision for Britain is to stay in a reformed European Union. I think it is right because of our prosperity, I think it is right because of our security and I also think it is right because of the kind of country that we want for our children and our grandchildren."

He suggested Brexit supporters were making "emotional arguments" for leaving, claiming it was the patriotic choice.

But he insisted: "I would argue there is a strong patriotic case for staying in a reformed EU because I say our country does best in the world when we are open to the world, not when we are trying to pull up the drawbridge."

Asked about continued accusations from Brexit campaigners that he was engaging in "Project Fear", Mr Cameron said he had a "wholly positive message".

He added: "We have a home market of 500 million people. Let's succeed in that market and let's take that great strength and take on the rest of the world.

"I make absolutely no apology for warning people about the dangers and the uncertainties if we are to leave and I would make this point: today we're asking the Leave campaign 'What's the alternative?'

"To start with they wanted to be in the single market, then they said let's do a free trade deal, then they said let's do a Canada free trade deal and now they're saying they're not sure if they want a Canada free trade deal.

"They're making it up as they go along and they're taking a risk with people's jobs and people's livelihoods.

"Do we want, as a country, to spend the next seven years trying to negotiate a Canada-style free trade deal?

"When you press pause in the modern world your economy actually goes backwards - pause means rewind.

"We shouldn't be rewinding our economy, we should be going forward, taking this great market we have in Europe and then getting out there and taking on the world."

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