Nigel Farage has called for no campaigners from across the political spectrum to make a positive case for Britain’s EU exit.
The Ukip leader said that those who wish to exit the union should challenge David Cameron’s renegotiation strategy, including on issues such as border control, the sovereignty of parliament and costs associated with EU membership.
Farage is due to use a speech in London on Thursday to call for the no campaign to promote its case rather than argue about who should lead it. On BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, he said that the yes campaign has been making its points for months and needed to be challenged.
“The worry isn’t, who is going to lead it. The worry is, is there going to be a campaign at all? What we have seen since the general election is the yes campaign at full throttle,” Farage said.
“Mr Cameron has set his own terms around the renegotiation around the terms of migrant benefits, and the no campaign in Westminster – in many cases people who have been in parliament for over 20 years who define themselves as Eurosceptics – are saying: ‘Let’s wait and see, let’s see how Mr Cameron gets on.’
“My argument is this: we must challenge the prime minister around the terms of that renegotiation.”
His intervention comes after Cameron insisted technical talks on the UK’s demands for EU reform are going “quite well”. The prime minister has previously acknowledged there would be “road blocks ahead” in his drive to change the terms of Britain’s relationship with Brussels. The discussions ahead of an in/out referendum will go on throughout the summer.
They are expected to continue at least until the European council leaders’ summit in October, with the poll taking place before the end of 2017.
Cameron has indicated the referendum could be held earlier and the House of Lords’ EU committee has suggested the government would prefer it to take place in autumn 2016.
George Osborne, the chancellor, has also warned Britain must fix its economic relationship with Brussels to persuade the voters it is right to remain in the EU.
Meanwhile, the shadow business secretary, Chuka Umunna, said he would be “intensely relaxed” should Farage emerge as the figurehead for the no campaign.
The Conservative former immigration minister Damian Green also claimed the no campaign had a “delusional level of complacency” about the impact of a British exit from the EU.
This article was written by Rajeev Syal, for theguardian.com on Thursday 30th July 2015 10.13 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010