The Mayor of London has branded the campaign to stay in the EU as “project fear” – arguing that the Remain campaign wants to terrify voters about the consequences of Brexit.
Boris Johnson wrote in his regular newspaper column that “the agents of Project Fear” were trying to “spook” the British public.
He argued that the risks of staying in the EU were greater than the risks of leaving.
“In every case the message is that Brexit is simply too scary; and the reality is that these threats are so wildly exaggerated as to be nonsense,” he wrote in the Daily Telegraph.
“Indeed I am ever more convinced that the real risk is to sit back and do nothing, to remain inertly and complacently in an unreformed EU that is hell-bent on a federal project over which we have no control.”
The phrase recalls the label given by pro-independence Scots to keep Scotland in the UK.
Mr Johnson’s comments were however pre-empted by pro-EU Labour politician Alistair Darling – who defended the use such a campaigning approach.
“Project Fear? In fact, it is a reality check. The kind anyone would take before making such an enormous decision in their lives,” Mr Darling wrote in an article for the Mail on Sunday newspaper yesterday.
“So when Iain Duncan Smith claimed if we stay in the EU terrorists would find it easier to get into the UK, we are right to call him out. He could not explain why they would find it harder if we left. He seems to forget the London bombings were perpetrated by terrorists who were British citizens.
“We will hear much more about Project Fear. The Out campaign is trying to use that sense of insecurity and alienation which we see around the world and build on it for their own ends.”
The campaign on both sides of the referendum has so far has been marked with scare stories about the consequences of leaving or remaining in.
Yesterday’s Labour’s shadow business secretary Angela Eagle warns that some eurosceptics wanted to leave the EU in order to strip away workers’ rights guaranteed in treaties.
Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith later contributed to the debate by noting that one of the EU’s 11 founding fathers had been a member of the Italian Communist Party in the 1920s.
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.
He had earlier said that remaining in the EU would make Britain more vulnerable to a Paris-style terrorist attack.
Over the weekend the Chancellor George Osborne said leaving the EU would cause a “profound economic shock” while David Cameron warned it would be a “leap in the dark”.
The EU referendum is scheduled for 23 June this year.
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