Ben Lowry: PM is sticking to one key campaign message on EU

Prime Minster David Cameron speaks about the EU at Ballybollan House dairy farm, near Ahoghill, Co Antrim. Photo: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Prime Minster David Cameron speaks about the EU at Ballybollan House dairy farm, near Ahoghill, Co Antrim. Photo: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

During his Northern Ireland visit the tactic David Cameron is going to use in this EU referendum was evident.

It is the method of Lynton Crosby, the Australian poll expert credited with securing the Conservative Party a Westminster majority last May.

Mr Crosby found then that the Tories had one or two perceived strengths among potential voters such as economic competence and welfare reform, and insisted that the Prime Minister and his re-election team talked about almost nothing else.

This caused unease among senior Conservatives who wanted to talk more about matters such as immigration.

The advice worked, but Mr Crosby charged the Tories a fee for his advice.

Perhaps this time Mr Cameron is re-using the tactic without having to pay for it. He is evidently concentrating on the “leap in the dark” fear. It is as if he has seen polling data that there is widespread anxiety about the risk of Brexit.

During his short visit to Co Antrim, the Prime Minister returned to it repeatedly. During a 10-minute question and answer session with local journalists, he said the following in response to various questions:

“... why on Earth would we want to put that at risk

“... a great United Kingdom versus a great leap in the dark ...

“... swapping the certainty of knowing [about farmer support] for not having answers ...

“... that’s the future I want to see rather than the uncertainties that would inevitably follow exit ...

“... the economic advantages we have in compared with the uncertainty out

“... I make no apology for raising the concerns and issues and worries ...

“... we have a system that is working, it can always be improved and I think there are risks in going down another track...”

The Prime Minister has learned the key lesson of May. He is hammering on a single point – anxiety – and will do until June 23.

It was reported over the weekend that Mr Crosby in fact thinks Mr Cameron should have delayed the referendum to next year.

But the fact is: the poll is happening a few weeks from now. And the Prime Minister seems intent to fight it using a key Crosby tactic.

Cameron vote for Brexit could pose risk to the future of the UK