Politicians make final appeals in EU vote campaign
Campaigners on both sides of the crucial vote over whether Britain should remain in the European Union criss-crossed the country yesterday, their last day to win support from the undecided.
Prime Minister David Cameron outlined his vision for a future with Britain retaining its place in the 28-nation bloc, bristling at the notion that the country would be headed in the wrong direction if it stayed in. He flatly rejected the charge that the institution is moribund.
"We are not shackled to a corpse," Cameron told the BBC. "You can see the European economy's recovery. It's the largest single market in the world."
The most notable figure in the 'leave' campaign, former London Mayor Boris Johnson, kicked off a whirlwind tour of England as he pushed for a British exit - or Brexit. Touring the Billingsgate Fish Market, Johnson mugged for the cameras with fish in hand - a not-so-subtle reminder that this is an island nation - and one very proud of its independence and self-assurance.
"It's time to have a totally new relationship with our friends and partners across the Channel," Johnson said. "It's time to speak up for democracy, and hundreds of millions of people around Europe agree with us. It's time to break away from the failing and dysfunctional EU system."
Voters go to the polls today after a campaign that has been unusually heated, even by the lively standards of British politics.
Nigel Farage, a 'leave' campaigner and leader of the UK Independence Party, resisted fresh calls to apologise for a poster showing hundreds of migrants making their way across Europe along with the words 'Breaking Point'.
The poster, labelled racist and misleading by opponents, was unveiled hours before Labour lawmaker Jo Cox was killed in a knife and gun attack outside a library in her Yorkshire constituency last week. She had been an outspoken supporter of migrants.
"I apologise for the timing and I apologise for the fact that it was able to be used by those who wish us harm," said Farage. "But I can't apologise for the truth."
"This was a photograph that all newspapers
carried. It is an example of what is wrong inside the European Union," he said.
The stakes are high as the vote is final unlike an election in which the results can be reversed in the next term. However, the vote is not legally binding, and Parliament would have to vote to repeal the law that brought Britain into the EU in the first place.
A vote to leave would invoke Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union, which allows a member state to withdraw. The article has never been invoked and it would trigger a period of uncertainty during years of negotiations on the relationship between the EU and the UK.