UK Impact

He’s running scared! Former Cabinet minister IDS accuses David Cameron of dodging TV showdown on Brexit as ANOTHER poll shows Obama warning made no difference

  • Prime Minister accused of stalling over prospect of televised debates during referendum campaign
  • Duncan Smith says he will take on Cameron ‘any time, anywhere’
  • Challenge comes as latest poll shows Barack Obama‘s high-profile intervention may have backfred 

Iain Duncan Smith said he was ready to take on the Prime Minister ‘any time, anywhere, any platform’.

The challenge – made despite a tacit deal that senior Tories will not clash directly during the campaign – comes as another poll finds Barack Obama‘s dramatic intervention in the battle might have backfired.

The US president warned during a visit to the UK that the country would go to the ‘back of the queue’ for a trade deal with America if it left the union.

Ex-work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith said he is ready to take on David Cameron in a televised debate 'any time, anywhere' 

The comments coincided with an onslaught of material from the Remain camp including a Treasury document claiming Brexit would cost every family £4,300 by 2030.

But an ICM poll for The Sun on Sunday is the latest to suggest the offensive did not succeed in swaying the public.

Some 46 per cent of those who had made up their minds planned to vote to leave, compared to 43 per cent who wanted to stay in.

 Nearly eight in 10 people insisted Mr Obama’s intervention would make no difference to their vote in the crucial ballot on June 23.

Embarrassingly for Mr Cameron, people were also more impressed with the campaigning by Brexit-supporting London Mayor Boris Johnson so far than with his.

Mr Duncan Smith said he was not surprised that Mr Obama’s intervention had flopped, describing it as ‘pretty gratuitous to your oldest ally’.

He said voters did not need senior figures to ‘wag their finger’ and tell them they are wrong.

‘They don’t like the idea of government setting out to bully and harangue them – and they are haranguing them at the moment, in an almost shrill voice from the bubble in Westminster, without the recognition that in real towns and cities up and down the country people are suffering,’ he told the Sunday Telegraph.

President Obama: Brexit warning to Britain ‘not a threat’

Mr Duncan Smith said immigration – labelled as the top concern of the public in the ICM poll – was a crucial issue.

‘This has been astonishingly badly handled,’ Mr Duncan Smith says. ‘Millions of people came into the EU in the last 12 months alone – most of whom nobody knows who they are.

‘We saw what happened in Paris and Brussels. These were attacks planned and supported by the ability of jihadists to criss-cross the border.’

He added: ‘It’s bad now. It’s going to get worse.’

Downing Street has been accused of stalling in negotiations over the details of TV debates and who would be involved.

But Mr Duncan Smith said he was ready to take on the PM. ‘Let me at him,’ he said.

‘I will debate anybody. I am ready to go… Any time, anywhere, any platform.

‘They don’t want the debates. I don’t blame them from running away. I would if I was on their side,’ he added.

Meanwhile, former Deputy Prime Minister Lord Heseltine has described the lack of loyalty to Mr Cameron over Europe as ‘mind-blowing’.

‘This government is in ack of power because David Cameron is more popular than the Conservative party,’ the Tory grandee and long-term Europhile told Sky News.

‘The facts are that he won this election for the Conservatives and now to see people who, frankly, many of them would not have their seats and certainly many of them wouldn’t be in government if David Cameron hadn’t won that election for the Conservatives.

Former Deputy Prime Minister Lord Heseltine said the lack of loyalty to David Cameron over Europe has been 'mind-blowing. But he insisted the party would heal itself after the referendum on June 23

‘And to see them now turning on the policies that some of them have been sitting in the Government implementing, I just find mind-blowing.’

But Lord Heseltine argued that Tories would be able to regroup after the referendum.

‘The Conservative party is the most successful political force in human history, it will come back together, that’s what it does because unlike the Labour party, who are the party essentially of protest, the Conservatives are the party of government,’ he added.

Farming minister George Eustice, a Brexit supporter, also dismissed the idea that there would be a ‘rush’ to oust Mr Cameron if the country votes to leave.

“I think there’s a lot of, for understandable reasons and for understandable reasons there’s media speculation about what would happen to David Cameron after,’ he told the BBC’s Radio 5 Live. ‘The truth is though, David Cameron has already made clear that he doesn’t intend to fight another election, he’s made clear he’s going to stand down before the general election. I don’t think anyone is going to be in any rush to move against him whatever the outcome would be.”

Mr Eustice also played down the impact of tensions between Conservatives. ‘Look we’re in the middle of a referendum debate at the moment, we’re all politicians, we’re used to campaigns, you get the cut and thrust of the campaign, we don’t pull our punches when we’re campaigning,’ he said. ‘And yes, many of us are on opposite sides of the debate. The parliamentary party is split down the middle.

“When it’s over we will reconcile ourselves to the decision, whether it’s a decision to leave, which I hope it will be, or whether it’s a decision to remain. The parliamentary party will get back together, heal itself.”

David Cameron, left, and Downing Street have been accused of stalling in negotiations over televised referendum showdowns

Boris Johnson defends his comments on Obama regarding Brexit

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