EU referendum: Cameron to warn UK exit could put peace at risk – BBC News

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David Cameron

Peace in Europe could be at risk if Britain votes to leave the European Union, David Cameron has warned.

The UK has regretted “turning its back” on Europe in the past, the PM said, arguing the European Union has “helped reconcile” countries and maintain peace.

Mr Cameron asked if leaving the union is a “risk worth taking”.

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson, who wants the UK to leave the EU, will make a speech on the “cosmopolitan case for Brexit”.

There are just over six weeks to go until the 23 June referendum which will decide whether Britain remains in or leaves the EU.

The major speeches – from the most high-profile figures on both sides of the campaign – come as the referendum campaign intensifies, following last week’s elections.

Mr Johnson – now free from his role as London mayor – will begin a battle bus tour of the country on behalf of the Leave campaign later this week.

In his speech Mr Cameron argued that the EU – with Britain in it – had helped bring together countries that had been “at each others’ throats for decades”.

He warned the peace and stability Europe has enjoyed in recent years could not be guaranteed.

The PM argued that continued co-operation is in keeping with the country’s finest traditions and the sweep of its history.

‘Risk worth taking?’

While Europe has largely been at peace since 1945, Mr Cameron said it was barely two decades since the Bosnian war while, more recently, Russia has been at war with Georgia and Ukraine.

“Can we be so sure that peace and stability on our continent are assured beyond any shadow of doubt? Is that a risk worth taking? I would never be so rash as to make that assumption,” he said.

Mr Cameron argued “isolationism has never served this country well”.

He ranked 2016 alongside other major events in European history, including the Spanish Armada in 1588, the battles of Blenheim and Waterloo in 1704 and 1815 respectively, the two world wars, as well as the fall of the Berlin Wall.

“The truth is this: what happens in our neighbourhood matters to Britain,” the PM added.

“That was true in 1914, in 1940 and in 1989. Or, you could add 1588, 1704 and 1815… And if things go wrong in Europe, let’s not pretend we can be immune from the consequences.”

Image caption

The former mayor will also make a major speech on Europe later.

It comes after former MI6 boss Sir John Sawers warned leaving the EU would make the UK “less safe”.

He said the UK would be shut out of decisions on the “crucial” issue of data sharing.

However, Justice Secretary Michael Gove – who backs the campaign for the UK to leave the EU – said Sir John was “flat wrong”.

Global standing

Key Leave figures like Mr Johnson, Mr Gove and Iain Duncan-Smith say the UK needs to be more self-confident and outward-looking, warning that future integration within the eurozone further threatens the UK’s autonomy and sovereignty.

They reject claims that the UK’s global standing will be undermined by not being in the EU, pointing to its membership of the UN Security Council and Nato – which both pre-date its joining the European Economic Community – and its strong bilateral relationship with the US.

On Sunday, Mr Gove said the UK could pull out of the EU’s single market without damaging trade, and clashed with cabinet colleague George Osborne on the issue.

The justice secretary said the UK would not be “punished” for leaving the EU by having tariffs placed on its exports.

He said he could “not imagine” Germany putting up trade barriers which would threaten their own exports into the UK.

EU referendum: Cameron to warn UK exit could put peace at risk – BBC News