Iain Duncan Smith has accused the Remain campaign of using “spin, smears and threats” in order to “bully” the British people into believing their jobs are at risk if they vote for Brexit.
The Work and Pensions Secretary, who in February warned the UK will be more exposed to Paris-style terror attacks if Britain stays in the EU, warned that those making “desperate and unsubstantiated claims” could see their integrity damaged.
He urged for the debate on the referendum to be conducted with respect, warning rivals not to “indulge in scaremongering”.
The former Conservative leader, who is one of five Cabinet ministers supporting the campaign to leave the EU, also criticised the pro-EU camp’s case for being largely supported by a “nightmare” image of Britain’s chances outside the EU, with “biblical consequences” resulting from a vote to leave.
He wrote: “The Remain campaign’s case seems almost wholly based on what they describe as the nightmare of leaving.
“This case has in whole or in part become characterised by spin, smears and threats ... In the last fortnight we have had a series of highly questionable dossiers – threatening almost biblical consequences if we dare to consider a future outside of the European Union.
“We’ve seen a series of stunts, whereby big businesses, big banks, and powerful politicians from other EU member states seek to bully the British people into believing their jobs and security are at risk.”
Mr Duncan Smith made his comments in the Daily Mail after the French President, François Hollande, said Brexit would inevitably have some impact on his country’s willingness to stop illegal migrants from crossing the English Channel.
What has the EU ever done for us?
What has the EU ever done for us?
1/7 1. It gives you freedom to live, work and retire anywhere in Europe
As a member of the EU, UK citizens benefit from freedom of movement across the continent. Considered one of the so-called four pillars of the European Union, this freedom allows all EU citizens to live, work and travel in other member states.
2/7 2. It sustains millions of jobs
A report by the Centre for Economics and Business Research, released in October 2015, suggested 3.1 million British jobs were linked to the UK’s exports to the EU.
3/7 3. Your holiday is much easier - and safer
Freedom to travel is one of the most exercised benefits of EU membership, with Britons having made 31 million visits to the EU in 2014 alone. But a lot of the benefits of being an EU citizen are either taken for granted or go unnoticed.
4/7 4. It means you're less likely to get ripped off
Consumer protection is a key benefit of the EU’s single market, and ensures members of the British public receive equal consumer rights when shopping anywhere in Europe.
5/7 5. It offers greater protection from terrorists, paedophiles, people traffickers and cyber-crime
Another example of a lesser-known advantage of EU membership is the benefit of cross-country coordination and cooperation in the fight against crime.
6/7 6. Our businesses depend on it
According to 71% of all members of the Confederation of British Influence (CBI), and 67 per cent of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the EU has had an overall positive impact on their business.
7/7 7. We have greater influence
Robin Niblett, Director of think-tank Chatham House, stated in a report published last year: “For a mid-sized country like the UK, which will never again be economically dominant either globally or regionally, and whose diplomatic and military resources are declining in relative terms, being a major player in a strong regional institution can offer a critical lever for international influence.
The German Finance Minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, argued that Brexit would make the whole of Europe “less stable and more volatile”, adding that Britain would be shut out of the single market if it left the EU.
Mr Duncan Smith added: “The acrimonious manner in which all this has been conducted is troubling, and will I fear have consequences long beyond June 23.
“After all, such desperate and unsubstantiated claims are now being made that they begin to damage the very integrity of those who make them in the eyes of the public.”
Meanwhile, his colleague in the Department for Work and Pensions, Priti Patel, also campaigning to leave, compared the European Union to Titanic heading towards a huge iceberg as she set out the case for Brexit.
Additional reporting by Press Association