EU Referendum

Obama being ‘lined up’ by Downing Street to boost the pro-EU vote case with intervention during his farewell visit before the referendum

  • US President could intervene in the debate when he visits in the Spring
  • He is expected to say that Britain will be more secure inside the EU
  • It comes as Boris Johnson told Eurosceptic MPs: ‘I am not an outer’
  • Michael Gove is thought to back the PM, but Theresa May is undecided

The US president is being lined up to make a dramatic intervention when he visits the UK in the Spring on his farewell tour.

Mr Obama is expected to appeal directly to swing voters by claiming that Britain and the West will be more secure from terrorism if it remains inside the Brussels club.

Weapon?: President Obama is expected to say that Britain and the West will be safer from terrorism if the UK stays in the EU

 The revelations, made in this week’s Spectator magazine, will fuel concerns that Number ten will try to flatten the Out campaign with the full might of the Government machine.

The national security argument is also expected to be central to Mr Cameron’s own campaign.

Robert Oxley, a spokesman for Vote Leave said: ‘The Government would wheel out the Pope if they could to make the case to stay in the EU at all costs.

‘The public won’t be fooled by a cynical campaign of fear from establishment figures and certainly won’t be frightened into their decision on polling day.’

Yesterday, it emerged the chances of the leave campaign securing a ‘box office’ figurehead were receding.

London Mayor Boris Johnson – who has repeatedly flirted with Brexit – has effectively ruled himself out.

He has told Eurosceptic MPs: ‘I am not an outer’.

 Many had long suspected this was the case – and he had been keeping his options open to potentially boost his leadership credentials.

The chances of Home Secretary Theresa May seizing the chance to lead the Out campaigner are also fading, MPs believe.

Friends say she will not make a decision until the last moment but one said: ‘Theresa is not instinctively somebody who wants to leave things’.

In a significant boost for Number Ten, Cabinet heavyweight Michael Gove is also understood to be ready to sidLe is with the PM.

A senior source said: ‘Gove was the one Number Ten were most concerned about. They think they’ve got him in the bag now.’

Iain Duncan Smith, Chris Grayling and Theresa Villiers are almost certain to campaign to leave – with leader of the Commons Mr Grayling increasingly at then fore.

Leave campaigners are hoping they might also secure Priti Patel, the employment minister who attends Cabinet.

 David Cameron says he ‘won’t rule anything out’ in EU vote

MPs believe chances of Home Secretary Theresa May seizing the chance to lead the Out campaigner are also fading

 The popular minister – who has a long-standing track record of Eurosceptic – could prove crucial in reaching out to swing voters, especially women.

The female vote is seen as crucial in what some pollsters believe is a neck and neck contest.

Mr Johnson was seen as hedging his bets last week, saying that while David Cameron was doing a ‘brilliant job’, Britain must be ‘prepared to walk away’ if the deal he secures is not good enough.

His remarks – dubbed ‘classic Boris’ by one Government aide – kept his options firmly open for potentially leading the Leave campaign.

He said Britain could have a ‘great future’ outside the EU and refused to rule out campaigning against the Prime Minister when the referendum is called.

Mr Johnson said: ‘My own view is I want to be part of a reformed EU, I’ve always said that – but if we can’t get the reform we need then Britain has a great future outside in a different relationship.’

However, Eurosceptic sources say they no longer expect him to come on board. One said: It is not ruled out altogether, but I certainly wouldn’t go putting any money on it.’

Earlier this week, Tory grandee Lord Tebitt said the Out camp was ‘crying out for inspirational leadership’.

He called on high-profile Eurosceptic Cabinet Ministers to step forward once the Prime Minister has completed his renegotiations, saying: ‘Those who claim to believe in Britain need to lead Britain.’

Lord Tebbit also warned that any would-be future Tory leader could pay a heavy price for failing to support the ‘Out’ campaign.

Under rules laid down by the PM, Eurosceptic ministers are banned from speaking out until his negotiations are complete. This is likely to be in February or March. The referendum will be held in the summer or, as seems increasingly likely, September.

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