Richard Dawkins accuses David Cameron of 'playing Russian Roulette' with UK's future over EU referendum

'Brexit is much too difficult and detailed to be left to voters who know no economics,' says Dawkins

Heather Saul
Wednesday 01 June 2016 13:35 BST
(Getty Images)

Richard Dawkins has accused David Cameron of playing Russian Roulette with the UK’s future by calling a referendum over its place in the European Union.

The controversial atheist author and biologist criticised the Government for placing such a momentous decision in the hands of the public, arguing it should instead be thoroughly researched and decided by elected officials with a sound understanding of major economic issues pertaining to it.

Speaking to the Independent, Dawkins said the Government was guilty of “gross irresponsibility” for calling a referendum at all on such a complex issue with potentially huge ramifications.

“I’m a democrat, but we live in a representative democracy, not a plebiscite democracy,” he said. “We elect MPs to do their homework and due diligence on complex decisions such as this.

“It is much too difficult and detailed to be left to voters who know no economics and tend to say things like, ‘Well I was going to vote Leave but I can’t stand Boris Johnson’s hair so I’m going to vote Remain.’ Or, ‘I was going to vote Remain but Cameron needs punishing so I’m going to vote Leave.’ I have literally heard vox pop statements very similar to both those.

“If there are issues on which the populace at large should be trusted to vote, something as complicated and economically sophisticated as EU membership is definitely not one of them.“

Dawkins has already said he will vote against Brexit, saying the arguments for leaving were emotional, while those presented for staying were more rational. He claimed Mr Cameron was simply pandering to Ukip sympathies within his own parties, something which could cost him dearly if the vote does not go his way.

“Cameron called the referendum to appease the Ukip tendency among his own party and he is now in desperate danger of reaping the whirlwind," said Dawkins. "Even if it goes the way he wants, he was playing Russian Roulette with our future.”

Dawkins’ comments came as the Bank of England warned a vote to leave the EU could tip Britain into a recession. Reports from policymakers at the Bank and the International Monetary Fund will be released days before voters head to the polls on 23 June, in timing which has outraged some Vote Leave campaigners.

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