British Prime Minister David Cameron warned Sunday of the dangers of embracing “leave” campaigner Nigel Farage’s vision of Britain ahead of the country’s referendum on its European Union membership.
The UK Independence Party leader wants to take Britain “backwards” and divide rather than unite, Cameron said, as both sides in the referendum debate prepared to make a final push before the Thursday vote.
He made the argument in an article in the Sunday Telegraph as the battleground shifted to the news media with large rallies still on hold because of the Thursday slaying of Labour Party lawmaker Jo Cox.
Cameron praised the compassionate vision of an inclusive Britain upheld by Cox, who had publicly backed the “remain” side, in contrast to Farage and the other advocates for a British withdrawal from the 28-nation EU bloc.
It is not clear what impact, if any, the shocking killing of Cox will have on the vote.
A 52-year-old man has been charged with murder over her death. When asked his name in court Saturday, the suspect said “death to traitors, freedom for Britain.”
The leave campaign headed by former London Mayor Boris Johnson also turned to the influential Sunday newspapers to press its case.
Johnson told the Sun on Sunday newspaper that a British exit, or Brexit, offers voters a “once in a lifetime” chance to change British life for the better. He said it would make a statement that would last through the ages.
Johnson had initially planned a major rally Sunday but it was cancelled after the Cox murder. Parliament has been recalled for a special session Monday to honor her memory.
Newspaper editorial boards weighed in Sunday. The Sunday Times and Sunday Telegraph urged voters to leave the EU. The Observer and the Mail on Sunday endorsed staying within the bloc.
The Sun tabloid has earlier said it favors a Brexit.
Both sides are expected to resume full-scale campaigning shortly ahead of the Thursday vote.
Some analysts believe both sides will use less inflammatory rhetoric in the final days because of the anguish caused by Cox’s death.