EU referendum: Full transcript of David Cameron's last-ditch plea for Britain to Remain

The Prime Minister said Britain had come far - and could go further still in the EU

Jon Stone
Tuesday 21 June 2016 14:52
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Prime Minister David Cameron delivers an EU referendum related speech in Downing Street, London.
Prime Minister David Cameron delivers an EU referendum related speech in Downing Street, London.

David Cameron has given a last-ditch speech calling for Britain to remain in the European Union.

The Prime Minister made the call at lunchtime on Tuesday with just one full day of campaigning to go before polling day.

Polls show a tight race, with both sides hopeful of victory.

The full text of the Prime Minister's speech is below.

"Good afternoon. We’re near the end of a frenetic campaign.

"And today I want to pause and speak to you very directly, and personally, about the momentous decision that this country faces in just two days’ time.

"For six years, I’ve had the responsibility and the honour of being your Prime Minister.

"And I want to tell you why, doing this job, I feel so strongly that Britain should remain in Europe.

"Above all, it’s about our economy.

"It will be stronger if we stay.

"It will be weaker if we leave.

"That’s a huge risk to Britain – to British families; to British jobs – and it’s irreversible.

"There is no going back.

"And it’s also about our national security, too.

"My first responsibility is to keep you safe.

"Some of the most important moments behind that door are when you’re reading the intelligence reports…

"…taking in the most chilling details about those who are planning to do us harm.

"My job is to act. To make the right call. To use every tool at my disposal to protect our country, to protect you, to protect your children.

"I would not be standing here, encouraging you to vote to remain in the EU, if I thought the EU stopped me from doing that.

"The reality is the opposite. Our membership of the EU helps me.

"I’ve seen first-hand, in these dangerous times, how we can better cooperate with our friends and neighbours.

"How we can share information, track terrorists down and bring them to justice.

"How, alongside key allies like the French and the Germans, we’re more effective at facing down threats and keeping people safe.

I’ve seen it time and again – at a very practical level – that we’re safer in Europe than out on our own.

"Being a member of the European Union also gives us strength in the world.

"We aren’t any old country. We’re a special country – one whose language, whose values, whose influence is felt the world over.

"If I felt that remaining in the European Union diminished us, I would recommend that we voted to leave.

"But it doesn’t. It amplifies our power.

"When we’re in these organisations, we become an even bigger force in the world, with a bigger influence in the world.

"And in the European Union, with 27 countries behind us, we can take a stronger lead in tackling climate change…

"…fighting disease and poverty…

"…standing up to Russian aggression…

"…helping friends around the world – in South East Asia, Australasia, the Caribbean…

"…and we can promote and preserve the values we hold so dear – like democracy, like freedom, like tolerance.

"That’s how our extraordinary country has always made its influence felt.

"Not by walking away from the world. But by engaging with it.

"Brits don’t quit.

"We get involved, we take a lead, we make a difference, we get things done.

"If we left, our neighbours would go on meeting and making decisions that profoundly affect us, affect our country, affect our jobs – but we wouldn’t be there."They’d be making decisions about us, but without us.

"Above all, being a member of the European Union is about our economic security.

"The reason I came into politics was to help people to lead a better life…

"…to get a good job, to earn a fair wage, have the chance to own a home, to provide for your family and for your retirement.

"That’s why the thing I have focussed on most these past six years, in that building, is sorting out our economy.

"Now I know I haven’t got every decision right. And I know not everyone has been happy with what I’ve done.

"But of this I am convinced – indeed, of this, every living Prime Minister, whether Labour or Conservative, is convinced:

"Britain is better off inside the EU than out on our own.

"At the heart of that is the Single Market – 500 million customers on our doorstep…

"…a source of so many jobs, so much trade, and such a wealth of opportunity for our young people.

"Leaving the EU would put all of that at risk.

"Expert after expert – independent advisers, people whose job it is to warn Prime Ministers – have said it would shrink our economy.

"In the short term – facing recession.

"In the medium term – enduring a decade of uncertainty.

"And in the long term – living with fewer jobs, lower wages and higher prices.

"These are risks to our families and we shouldn’t take them.

"In particular, it will be future generations – the apprentices and the graduates starting out in life, the children learning in our schools, those yet to be born – who will be hit hardest.

"It’s for that reason I want to speak very directly to those of my generation, and older.

"I know Europe isn’t perfect. Believe me, I understand and I see those frustrations.

"I feel them myself.

"That’s why we negotiated and enhanced our special status.

"Out of the Euro.

"Keeping our borders.

"Not involved in ever-closer union.

"We have the best of both worlds.

"So as you take this decision – whether to remain or leave – do think about the hopes and dreams of your children and grandchildren.

"They know their chances to work, to travel, to build the sort of open and successful society they want to live in, rests on this outcome.

"And remember: they can’t undo the decision we take.

"If we vote out, that’s it.

"It is irreversible.

"We will leave Europe – for good.

"And the next generation will have to live with the consequences far longer than the rest of us.

"For the next two days, up and down the country…

"…in homes, in pubs, in the staff room at work, on the train on the way home…

"…the conversations will continue: in or out?

"But on Thursday, those conversations will stop.

"It will just be you in that polling booth.

"Just you – taking a decision that will affect your future, your children’s future and your grandchildren’s future.

"I believe, very deeply, from my years of experience, that we’ll be stronger, we’ll be safer, we’ll be better off inside Europe.

"To put it as clearly as I can: our economic security is paramount.

"It is stronger if we stay.

"If we leave, we put it at risk.

"That’s a risk to jobs, a risk to families, a risk to our children’s future – and there’s no going back.

"So, this Thursday, remember who we are as a nation…

"…remember how far we’ve come, and how much more we can achieve…

"…and, for you, for your family, for the future of our country, vote remain."

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