David Cameron has accused Brexit campaigners of promoting a vision of life outside the EU that was “too good to be true”, and warned that farming will lose out “enormously” from an exit.
In a speech to the Welsh Conservative conference in Llangollen, just hours after rival Boris Johnson had delivered his own address calling for an exit, the Prime Minister said the Leave camp were behaving as if EU withdrawal was an “abstract question” rather than something with consequences.
During a visit to a Welsh farm he also delivered a gloomy assessment of how agriculture in particular will fare if the UK leaves.
“They are asking us to trust that leaving would somehow be worth the profound economic shock and the years of uncertainty that would follow,” said Mr Cameron at the conference.
“They say we would have more control. How exactly? Leaving the EU but remaining in the single market doesn’t give us more control, it just stops us from having any say over the rules of trade. Relying on World Trade Organisation rules doesn’t give us more control, it just hurts industry, it hits jobs and hikes up prices. Trying for a free trade deal doesn’t give us more control, it just means years of painful negotiations and a poorer deal than we have today.
“In the end those who want us to leave are telling you that you can have all the benefits of EU membership but none of the trade-offs. But as everyone knows, if it sounds too good to be true, that’s normally because it is.”
During a seperate visit to a north Wales lamb and beef farm, he warned British farmers could “suffer enormously” from an exit.
Mr Cameron said: “Farmers are faced with bureaucracy, inspections, the payment system and it’s very important we deal with those issues but there’s a bigger issue which is a market of 500 million people who we can sell some of the best meat in the world to.”
He spoke of the consequences of leaving Europe: “You’d have to meet all their rules and you wouldn’t have any say on what they are and that doesn’t make you any more sovereign or more powerful.”
He was asked if there was a Plan B if the country was to leave.
Mr Cameron said: “Of course we have to be ready, we have just produced a document on the alternatives.”
Meanwhile, Mr Johnson appealed to voters to ignore the “merchants of gloom” and choose a future for Britain outside the EU.
The London mayor said that if people hold their nerve and vote for Brexit in the referendum on June 23, the UK could “prosper and thrive as never before”.
Speaking at a Vote Leave campaign event in Dartford, Kent, he said: “I think the prospects are win-win for all of us.
“I think it is time to ignore the pessimists and the merchants of gloom and to do a new deal that would be good for Britain and good for Europe too.
“It is time to burst loose and of all those regulations and get out into a world that is changing and growing and becoming more exciting the whole time.
“If we hold our nerve and we are not timid and we are not cowed by the gloomadon-poppers on the Remain campaign and we vote for freedom and for the restoration of democracy, then I believe that this country will continue to grow and prosper and thrive as never before.”