Prime Minister David Cameron faced a tough crowd during a live interview and Q&A with the audience on Sky News.
Fielding questions from a fairly hostile public about migration, security, the economy and the NHS, Cameron admitted that the EU often frustrated him, but that he was convinced that staying in was the right choice.
The prime minister also vehemently denied that his campaign amounted to scaremongering and said he had genuine fears about the consequences of the UK leaving the EU, whether economically or geopolitically.
The program started off with Sky News reported Faisal Islam interviewing the prime minister about his unfulfilled promises to reduce the number of EU migrants coming into the UK.
To counter Islam’s arguments, Cameron mentioned his re-negotiations with the EU, which he says will allow the government to partly control the immigration into the UK, adding that there was “no freedom of movement if EU migrants cannot support themselves
He also said that being part of the single market means there would always be UK citizens working in the EU and vice versa.
“I think we should welcome the fact that people want to come to our country and work hard,” the prime minister said, adding that he would not put a date on when migration to the UK would slow down.
Cameron also acknowledged that the EU was far from perfect and that sometimes it was driving him “crazy,” but insisted the UK was better off inside of it and at the negotiation table, rather than on the sidelines peaking in.
His biggest argument tonight was about how leaving the EU would “fundamentally damage the economy,” saying that being part of the EU meant the UK was part of the biggest market in the world and that leaving it would make the country and Britons poorer.
Continuing the questioning about the In campaign’s perceived scaremongering, Islam then asked him “What comes first, World War 3 or the global Brexit recession?” Cameron tried to defend himself, claiming that he never mentioned World War 3 and that Islam was being very “glib” about it all, and adding that the EU’s role in keeping peace in Europe should not be underestimated.
The journalist then doubled down, saying the prime minister had failed to meet his migration target, mismanaged his party and was, therefore, resorting to a “classic Cameron” fear-mongering campaign, the likes he had already used during the Scottish referendum.
‘I’m an English Literature student, I know waffling when I see it’
The audience did not give the prime minister any respite either, concatenating one bombshell after the other.
The first question was about whether Cameron would join the EU now if the UK wasn’t already in it, to which he said yes, but made clear that he would not ever want to join the Euro.
He also tried to appease the fears of certain members of the public claiming that future governments would be able to join the Euro if Britain choose to stay in the EU, by asserting that current laws prevented any transfer of power from the UK to the EU without a referendum.
The public also called out the prime minister for his scaremongering techniques, one particular audience member who said she was set on voting for the UK to stay inside the EU had found his “arguments for it appalling and scaremongering.” Throughout the entire exchanges, the prime minister kept asserting that his campaign did not amount to scaremongering at all.
She also called out Cameron as he was answering her, telling him to let her finish speaking and to answer the question, adding “I’m an English Literature student. I know waffling when I see it.”
The prime minister also addressed various other issues, alleviating a common fear over Turkey, guaranteeing it would not join the EU anytime soon (by the year 3000 according to his calculations); saying that it was vital to safeguarding the NHS that the UK stayed in the EU because of the tens of thousands of European nurses and doctors working there and added that “wrecking our economy is worse thing to do for the NHS.”
One of the questions that got the most applause was a woman calling Cameron out on his “hypocrisy” as she mentioned his comments stating that the new Mayor of London Sadiq Khan was not to be trusted before appearing alongside him on a platform a couple of weeks later to promote the In campaign.
“I’ve been making some new friends,” the prime minister answered, saying that he had to work with Khan and that the UK staying in the EU happened to be an issue they agreed on and could promote jointly.
Tomorrow night, it will be Michael Gove’s — one of the most prominent Leave campaigners who is part of Cameron’s cabinet — turn to be questioned on Sky News about a potential Brexit.
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