David Cameron will use a speech on Thursday to dismiss claims by anti-EU Conservatives that a short, sharp economic shock if Britain voted to leave the EU on 23 June would be a “price worth paying” for gaining freedom from Brussels.
Boris Johnson, the London mayor who has become the leading voice advocating Brexit, has argued that leaving the EU would cause “an initial period of dislocation and uncertainty”, but that would be “followed by very rapid improvement” – comparing it to the tick logo of Nike.
But the prime minister will use a speech to take on that argument directly, saying: “Let’s just remember what a shock really means. It means pressure on the pound sterling. It means jobs being lost. It means mortgage rates might rise. It means businesses closing. It means hardworking people losing their livelihoods.”
He will add: “For those who advocate leaving, lost jobs and a dented economy might be collateral damage, or a price worth paying. For me, they’re not. They never are. Because there’s nothing more important than protecting people’s financial security. That’s why I believe we are better off in.”
Cameron’s pitch to voters will come shortly after a speech by Chris Grayling, in which the anti-EU leader of the House of Commons will argue that the government’s renegotiation with Brussels has failed to bring significant legal powers back to Westminster.
“If we vote to stay in the EU, we are voting to be substantially and increasingly governed from Brussels. It would be a vote for an unreformed EU, which will hoover up more money and more power at every opportunity it gets,” he will say.
“The EU does not want to reform in the direction the UK needs. It does not want to change and become less centralised. Instead, it wants to move on to another stage in its development. To move closer and to resist giving back any powers to elected governments.”
Anti-EU campaigners believe that while the prime minister has played up the risks of leaving the EU – an approach they have derided as “Project Fear” – there are also risks attached to remaining in the EU, as Brussels takes on more powers.
The prime minister will spell out what he believes are the positive benefits of remaining in the EU single market of 500 million consumers, including tariff-free exports and the ability to take advantage of the EU’s negotiating power with other major economies.
However, Cameron faced renewed pressure over the tone and conduct of the campaign on Wednesday, when Bernard Jenkin, the senior Tory MP campaigning to leave the EU, claimed that one of the prime minister’s special advisers had broken the code of conduct.
In a letter to the prime minister, the chairman of the Commons public administration and constitutional affairs select committee said that Daniel Korski had been “clearly in breach” of the code of conduct for special advisers after “issuing a stream of Twitter messages”.
Anti-EU Tories have been attempting to pile the pressure on Korski after it emerged that he spoke to John Longworth, the director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, after he made a speech in favour of a British exit at the BCC annual conference. Longworth resigned after the board of the BCC complained that he had called into question the organisation’s neutrality on the referendum.
In his letter to the prime minister, Jenkin highlighted Korski’s retweet of a link to a recent column by the Observer’s Andrew Rawnsley, which said of anti-EU campaigners: “If you’re whingeing, you’re losing.” Jenkin said of the Korski tweets: “While they may be in support of government policy they are clearly in breach of the code ofconduct for special advisers.”
The code says that special advisers “must not take part in in political controversy”, they must observe discretion and should avoid personal attacks.
A No 10 spokesman said: “We have received the letter and will respond
in due course.”
Sir Jeremy Heywood, the cabinet secretary, said in recent guidelines for the referendum campaign that special advisers must abide by the code. Jenkin said that his committee would summon Korski to give evidence unless the issue is resolved.
This article was written by Heather Stewart Political editor, and Nicholas Watt Chief political correspondent, for theguardian.com on Thursday 10th March 2016 07.40 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010