EU referendum: Cameron says UK exit could put peace at risk


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bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-eu-referendum-36243296

**EU referendum: Cameron says UK exit could put peace at risk

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 EU had “helped reconcile” countries and maintain peace.

Was leaving the union a “risk worth taking”, Mr Cameron asked.

But ex-London mayor Boris Johnson hit back, saying the EU’s “anti-democratic tendencies” were “a force for instability and alienation”.

Mr Johnson also sparked criticism when he suggested the conflict in Ukraine was an example of “EU foreign policy-making on the hoof”.

Former Swedish prime minister Carl Bildt, as well as the official Remain campaign, branded him an “apologist for Putin”.

Mr Johnson called for an apology, saying the comments were “absolutely contemptible” and that he had repeatedly condemned Russia’s actions in Ukraine.**

Later on Monday, Mr Cameron’s security warning was bolstered by five former secretaries general of the West’s military alliance Nato - Lord Peter Carrington, Javier Solana, Lord George Robertson, Jaap De Hoop Scheffer and Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

In an open letter to the Daily Telegraph, they said it would be “very troubling” if the UK ended its membership of the EU.

“While the decision is one for the British people, Brexit would undoubtedly lead to a loss of British influence, undermine Nato and give succour to the West’s enemies just when we need to stand shoulder to shoulder across the Euro-Atlantic community against common threats, including on our doorstep,” they said.

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

Despite his warning of the consequences of a vote to leave, Mr Cameron defended his decision to call the referendum, telling the BBC: “You shouldn’t try to hold an independent sovereign nation in an organisation against its will.”

His comments - and a rival speech from Mr Johnson - came as the referendum campaign intensifies, following last week’s elections.

**The PM, who was introduced by former Labour foreign secretary David Miliband, argued 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, saying leaving risked “the clock being turned back to an age of competing nationalism in Europe”.**

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”.


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