EU Referendum

Cameron hammered by ex-policy guru for ‘pathetic EU scares’ after warning that Brexit could push up holiday costs by £230

  • Cameron delivers latest dire prediction of result from quitting EU at an event in Bedfordshire
  • Says 12 per cent slump in the value of the Pound would drive up costs of hotels, food and drink 
  • But Cameron’s former policy guru Steve Hilton dismisses claim as another ‘pathetic EU scare’ 
  • PM dismisses speculation over a Tory rebellion against him, insisting he is ‘doing my job’  and party will come together after referendum
  • Comes as poll shows Remain campaign has 13-point lead and is winning over voters with focus on economy

David Cameron has been accused of ‘pathetic scaremongering’ by his former policy guru after warning that Brexit would drive up holiday costs.

Steve Hilton, who masterminded Mr Cameron’s bid for Downing Street, said the claim that family breaks to Europe could be £230 more expensive was ‘like a parody’.

The Prime Minister cited controversial Treasury analysis to support his latest extraordinary warning as he addressed easyJet staff in Luton.

He insisted a Leave result on June 23 could trigger a 12 per cent slump in the value of the Pound, pushing up bills for accommodation, food, drink and other costs abroad.

But the claim infuriated Eurosceptics who have dismissed the official assessment published yesterday as ‘propaganda’ and even ‘b******s’. Tory MP Marcus Fysh branded the latest claims ‘crackpot’ and ‘garbage’.

Even pro-EU SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon admitted that that blood-curdling predictions about the consequences of leaving the EU have been ‘overblown’.

But speaking to airline employees in Luton today, Mr Cameron defended the way he had conducted the campaign so far and insisted the Conservative Party would not be torn apart.

‘What I am doing is I am doing my job,’ he said. ‘I said very clearly to the British people that if you vote Conservative… we will have a renegotiation of Britain’s terms of membership of the European Union, we will hold an in/out referendum and I will abide by the result.

Asked about the possibility of a vote of no confidence in him, Mr Cameron replied: ‘Obviously this is such a big issue that you do see arguments between political parties… and there are going to be passionate arguments, there’s going to be strong arguments and passion on both sides.

‘Do I believe at the end of this we can all come together and accept the result? Absolutely I do.

‘The one thing all Conservatives agree on is that it is right to have this referendum, right to have this debate and right to abide by the decision of the British people.’

The premier said he was making a ‘clear’ case for the UK to stick with Brussels on ‘patriotic’, economic and security grounds.

‘The big bold patriotic thing is to stay in the EU …to fight for the world we want,’ he argued.

But he insisted there were also clear ‘retail’ reasons why the public should vote to remain in the union.

‘If we were to leave and the Pound were to fall, which is what most people expect and the Treasury forecasts, that would put up the cost of a typical holiday for a family of four to a European destination by £230,’ he said.

Mr Cameron said that as a ‘proud easyJet passenger’ he personally would affected by the rising prices. He praised the firm’s planes as ‘almost always on time’ – although he did admit that on one occasion he was so late he missed a flight entirely.

‘I’ve let you down more often than you have let me down,’ the PM joked.

Mr Cameron has repeatedly flown easyJet for family holidays to destinations including Spain and Portugal.

Cameron eats Pringles on board an easyJet flight last August 

Cameron eats Pringles on board an easyJet flight last August

David Cameron said he was a ‘proud easyJet passenger’ as he spoke to the airline’s staff in Luton.

The Prime Minister has regularly used the firm’s services for family holidays to destinations including Portugal and Spain.

He praised the firm’s planes today as ‘almost always on time’ – although he did admit that on one occasion he was so late he missed a flight entirely.

‘I’ve let you down more often than you have let me down,’ the PM joked.

But the pitfalls of travelling with the public was exposed in August last year, when a teenage girl filmed him eating a tube of paprika-flavoured Pringles en route to Portugal.

The footage posted by Ashleigh on Twitter showed Mr Cameron messily devouring the £1.80 snack as he sat alongside his security detail.

Ashleigh told her followers: ‘Guys I’m crying he was eating Pringles.’

Last year a fellow passenger covertly filmed him messily devouring a tube of Paprika flavoured Pringles as he sat on the plane with his security detail.

Mr Hilton, who quit Downing Street in 2012 to teach at Stanford University in California and is supporting Brexit, said the holiday price warning was another example of ‘pathetic patronising EU scares’ and both sides were treating the public like ‘simpletons’.

‘You’ve got to be kidding. It’s almost like a parody,’ he told Press Association.

‘I just wish we could have a serious debate about the long-term future of how we want to be governed rather than this kind of nonsense.

‘It just does not do anyone any favours. It just puts people off the whole political class’.

Vote Leave Chief Executive Matthew Elliott said: ‘It’s remarkable to see the Prime Minister talking down our country and our economy day after day.

‘Yesterday Nicola Sturgeon pleaded with the government to stop the negative campaigning, and urged them to stop making exaggerated claims that insult the public’s intelligence. Clearly they’re not listening.

‘These threats lack credibility – the pound has actually been stable in recent months as the possibility of Brexit has increased.

‘The truth is that leaving the EU will liberate the UK and allow us to do trade deals with countries like India and China – helping our economy to grow.’

Meanwhile, the Remain campaign has been boosted by a poll showing older voters, men and Conservative backers all moving their support away from Brexit.

The ORB survey for the Daily Telegraph gave the pro-EU side a 13-point lead – by 55 per cent to 42 per cent – among those certain to vote, thanks in part to dramatic shifts among three key groups.

Over-65s and male voters – seen as the most keen on quitting the EU – backed Remain by 52% to 44 per cent and 55 per cent to 42 per cent, with Conservatives, who favoured Brexit by 60 per cent to 34 per cent in March, now 57 per cent to 40 per cent for Remain.

According to Government calculations, by 2018 the weaker pound will mean four people on a nine-night break to Spain could pay £225 more, with eight nights in France up £210, a fortnight in the US £620 and 10 nights in Portugal £325,

A defiant Mr Cameron has enlisted the support of a budget airline and mobile phone giants to back suggestions cheap flights and lower-cost overseas calls would also make holidays more expensive in the event of a divorce with Brussels on June 23.

Free healthcare is also at risk for tourists in EU countries and new limits on duty free would jeopardise the ‘booze cruise’, he suggested.

EasyJet chief executive Carolyn McCall backed the PM over rising prices and the threat to cheap flights, saying its passengers would be ‘better off in Europe’.

Steve Hilton was one of David Cameron's closest advisers until he left Downing Street in 2012
Steve Hilton was one of David Cameron’s closest advisers until he left Downing Street in 2012

‘If the UK were to vote to leave the EU any new, more restrictive aviation arrangements would add cost and therefore fares would rise,’ she said.

On roaming charges – which have been cut and are set to be abolished from June 2017 – Number 10 was backed by BT Group chief executive Gavin Patterson and Vittorio Colao, chief executive of the Vodafone Group.

Mr Patterson said: ‘Voters need to think very carefully before turning their backs on an institution that helps to ensure benefits like that are delivered.’

Both said remaining in the EU would be better for their businesses and for UK jobs.

Mr Colao added: ‘Britain will benefit from being part of a borderless European Single Digital Market as it will create new opportunities for economic growth.

‘Consequently, we believe it is better to be a shaper and leader from within, rather than being just a commercial neighbour.’

Mr Cameron also risked riling opponents after it was confirmed that he will not take part in any head-to-head televised debates in the run-up to the vote.

In the latest announcement of on-screen line-ups, the BBC said the PM would face a public grilling in a Question Time special on June 19 – four days after pro-Brexit cabinet colleague Michael Gove appears in the same format.

Mr Cameron has declined to engage in any ‘blue-on-blue’ confrontations with fellow Conservatives.

Labour will seize on the announcement as further evidence of a lack of female presence in the public debate as Harriet Harman asks watchdog Ofcom to ensure programmes are less male dominated.

Labour has called for broadcasters to be forced to give more airtime to female voices on each side of the EU referendum, warning women are being ‘pushed out’ of the debate.

The Prime Minister argued that there are strong 'patriotic' and 'retail' arguments for staying in the EU

Tory backbencher Marcus Fysh laid into Mr Cameron's holiday warning on Twitter today. Yesterday the MP dismissed the Treasury analysis as 'b******s'

Tory backbencher Marcus Fysh laid into Mr Cameron’s holiday warning on Twitter today. Yesterday the MP dismissed the Treasury analysis as ‘b******s’

Ms Harman said the argument over Britain’s future membership was ‘too important to be left to men’ and has written to Ofcom calling for action from the regulator to ensure a better balance.

Ms McCall – who is due to appear alongside Mr Cameron when he speaks to easyJet employees later – said it was ‘highly likely’ that fares would rise if the UK left the EU.

‘No-one quite knows what shape this would take if this indeed happened. It would depend what was able to be negotiated afterwards,’ she told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

‘What we can say with certainty is that it would be more complicated.

‘I think we can say that it is highly likely that fares would go up because it would be more complicated for airlines to fly freely across Europe.’

David Cameron, seen on a family holiday with wife Samantha in Portugal last August, said he was a 'proud' easyJet customer

Remain has 13% lead as Tory election guru warns Boris’s Brexit campaign ‘weak and dwindling’

The campaign to keep Britain in the EU has opened up a 13 per cent lead, a new poll revealed today as Boris Johnson’s Vote Leave was warned it is failing to combat economic fears of Brexit.

Worryingly for the Leave campaign, the new poll found its strong base of men, pensioners and Tory voters are snubbing the Out campaign.

Sir Lynton Crosby, the polling strategist who masterminded David Cameron’s surprise general election last year, warned the campaign to leave the EU is ‘dwindling’ and has ‘failed to quell ongoing concerns about the financial and economic consequences of a Brexit’.

The ORB poll has give Remain a commanding lead and Sir Lynton Crosby has warned that that Brexit campaign spearheaded by Boris Johnson is 'dwindling' 

The influential election guru singled out particular criticism for the Vote Leave, which is spearheaded by Mr Johnson, saying today’s poll reveals the ‘weaknesses of the campaign’s organisation’.

The ORB poll, for the Daily Telegraph, showed the Remain campaign on 55 per cent and Leave trailing on 42 per cent among those who said they will definitely vote.

The lead is even bigger among all voters, with Remain on 58 per cent and Brexit on 38.

In March the ORB poll found a majority of 60 per cent of Conservative voters were backing Brexit, while only a third (34 per cent) said they were for Remain.

But remarkably – just two months later – the majority of Tory supporters now say they’re backing the Remain campaign, with 57 per cent saying they back Britain staying in the EU compared to 40 per cent for Brexit.

Another worrying swing for the Brexit campaign is seen among men.

In March the Brexit campaign had a lead of 13 per cent among men, according to the ORB poll, but today the completely flip this into a 13 per cent lead for itself – with 55 per cent backing EU membership compared to 42 per cent who continue to back Brexit.

Still confident in those Brexit figures, Mr Osborne? Chancellor misses borrowing target by nearly £4bn
Chancellor George Osborne
Chancellor George Osborne

The government overshot its borrowing target by nearly £4billion last year in a blow for George Osborne.

Public sector net borrowing dropped by £0.3 billion to £7.2 billion in April, compared with the same month last year.

But the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the figures for the full 2015-16 financial year came in higher than expected at £76 billion.

The target had been £72.2 billion.

The failure is embarrassing for the Chancellor as he defends Treasury predictions for the consequences of Brexit, which have been condemned by Leave supporters as ‘propaganda’ and ‘b******s’.

A Treasury spokesman said: “Today’s figures show further progress in fixing the record post-war deficit we inherited: borrowing is falling and we have the lowest April monthly deficit since the great recession.

“But the fiscal repair job is not finished and it would be dangerous to put this at risk.

“As uncertainty ahead of the referendum weighs on our outlook, Treasury analysis has shown that if the UK votes to leave the EU on June 23, we would be tipped into a year-long recession and receipts could fall by £36 billion in the long term, unwinding years of hard work.”

Brexit supporters hit out at ‘recession’ branding for Treasury site

George Osborne has been criticised after the Treasury deployed a dramatic red ‘recession’ warning graphic on its web site.

Brexit supporters condemned the image – which claims that the ‘UK economy would fall into recession if Britain leaves the EU’ – as a ‘stunt’.

The Treasury began using the graphic as it published a controversial assessment of the impact of leaving the EU.

The analysis said GDP would slump if we cut ties to Brussels and up to 820,000 jobs would be sacrificed.

But Ukip MP Douglas Carswell told MailOnline: ‘We like to think of the Treasury as a department that produces objective reports but with George Osborne running the department it is resorting to political tricks and stunts.

The dramatic image on the Treasury's website has been criticised by Brexit supporters

‘Almost all forecasts since Osborne took over at Number 11 have been wrong.

‘I don’t think we should take anything that the Treasury has to say too seriously.’

Bernard Jenkin, the pro-Brexit Tory MP and chairman of the Commons public administration committee, said: ‘It’s the desecration of a great national institution.

‘The impartiality of our civil service is one of the buttresses of our constitution – but it has been disastrously compromised during this referendum campaign.

‘The officials are not being used to give objective advice and present objective facts; they are being used as an instrument of propaganda.

‘This is exactly what we expect the Chilcot report to conclude in respect of the use of intelligence data and the security services before the Iraq War.

‘The head of the civil service is ultimately responsible for how the civil service is used.’

Boris Johnson has to show the voters he is a safe pair of hands
Boris Johnson wielding an angle-grinder out on the referendum campaign trail
Boris Johnson wielding an angle-grinder out on the referendum campaign trail

Analysis by Political Editor James Tapsfield

With a month to go, there is still everything to play for in the EU referendum battle.

But a string of polls have now suggested apocalyptic warnings about the consequences of Brexit are starting to hit home.

The furious reaction to yesterday’s Treasury forecast that up to 820,000 jobs would be sacrificed underlines how much Tory tempers are being frayed.

But there is also increasing nervousness that the tactics are working and the Brexit camp seems unable to land clean blows.

The anxiety will have been heightened by the intervention of Sir Lynton Crosby – who masterminded David Cameron’s shock general election victory a year ago and has previously run successful campaigns for Boris Johnson.

When the Australian guru says the Leave campaign’s efforts have been ‘weak’ and its chances are ‘dwindling’, it is a brave person who does not sit up and take notice.

Mr Johnson is without doubt the biggest beast on the block for the ‘out’ campaign, and no-one doubts the former mayor’s ability to draw crowds and garner media attention.

But he has also become embroiled in ridiculous rows over the detail of EU banana regulations – risking looking trivial while the pro-EU camp is talking about recession and an increased terror threat.

Mr Johnson cannot resist a good photo op, even when – especially when – it makes him look faintly ridiculous.

Earlier this month he took great delight in donning a mask and protective gear at a steel factory, ending up resembling menacing Batman villain Bane.

By contrast, Mr Cameron is most often seen wearing a sober suit speaking to attentive workers, or delivering a serious speech from behind a lectern.

The biggest obstacle to victory for those who want the UK to leave the EU after June 23 is the natural conservatism of the British people.

They need to be reassured that voting to cut ties with Brussels is not too big a risk, and will not mean immediate disaster.

Mr Johnson has to show he is a safe pair of hands as well as someone you would like to have a drink with down the pub.

Mr Johnson was photographed brandishing asparagus and pasty 

David Cameron has warned of war and recession during the referendum campaign 

David Cameron has warned of war and recession during the referendum campaign

David Cameron and George Osborne warned Brexit would be ‘immoral’ and the ‘self-destruct’ option for Britain as they unveiled forecasts the nation’s economy would be plunged into a recession immediately by a vote to quit.

IMF Chief Christine Lagarde said the consequences of an ‘out’ vote ranged from ‘bad to very bad’, with nearly 10 per cent potentially being wiped off the economy.

Labour’s former deputy leader Harriet Harman suggested leaving the union could boost sexism.

She said Brussels had been a ‘strong friend’ to women and a vote to quit the union would be a ‘major step back’ in the fight for gender equality, she argued.

David Cameron suggested that leaving could trigger another war in Europe in remarks that provoked a major backlash.

Highlighting the sacrifice of UK forces in the Second World War, the Prime Minister said the ‘risk’ of another conflict should not be ignored.

‘Can we be so sure that peace and stability on our continent are assured beyond any shadow of doubt?’ he said

The Bank of England governor also raised the prospect that Brexit could push the economy into recession.

Mark Carney took the unusual step of saying it was ‘possible’ that UK growth could shrink after a vote to leave on June 23 as he warned of years of market turmoil.

Boris Johnson enraged the Remain campaign to claim the EU had the same goal as Hitler 

Boris Johnson enraged the Remain campaign to claim the EU had the same goal as Hitler

Vote Leave have repeatedly claimed quitting the EU would save Britain £350million every week that it could instead spend on other priorities – such as the NHS.

But the claim has been dismissed as untrue by the Remain campaign and Sir Andrew Dilnot, of the UK Statistics Authority, said it was ‘potentially misleading’ because it ignored the rebate.

The official Out campaign claimed polling in Turkey found 12 million of them would want to move to the UK if they were handed free movement.

The campaign suggested the migration would also lead to far higher numbers of criminals travelling to Britain while Tory MP David Davis said an influx of Turkish workers would drive down wages.

Boris Johnson claimed the European Union wanted the same goal as Adolf Hitler – but was pursuing it via ‘different methods’.

The ex-London Mayor said the dream of a European superstate was a flawed attempt to reclaim the golden age of the Roman empire in Europe. 

Out campaigners have insisted remaining in the European Union – and particularly the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice – makes it impossible for Britain to secure its borders against terrorists.

They claim free movement rules mean suspects can waltz into Britain unopposed.

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