Cameron Hails EU Flood-Aid Bid as He Pushes `Stay' Vote in North

  • Latest online poll shows 3-point lead for remaining in bloc
  • `Leave' campaign assails premier over latest migration data

Prime Minister David Cameron highlighted his government’s bid for European Union cash to help flood-affected parts of Britain on Thursday as he sought to bolster support for his campaign to stay in the 28-nation bloc.

Speaking to an audience at a BAE Systems Plc factory near Preston, northwest England, Cameron said the aid is an example of the support Europe can provide for Britain. About 16,000 homes in northern England were flooded at the end of last year as the U.K. suffered it wettest December in a century.

“We will be applying to the EU solidarity fund which could supply many millions in terms of helping with the work that needs to be done after these disastrous floods,” Cameron said Thursday. “That’s another thing to think about in the balance of what the European Union can do to help the northwest.”

Cameron is carrying out a series of town-hall style meetings across the U.K. as he presses the case for Britain to remain in the EU in a referendum to be held on June 23. While he’s concentrating on his core messages of economic security, safety and certainty, the intervention on floods gives an indication of the way he will tailor his message for different parts of the U.K.

It’s less than a week since Cameron sealed a deal with fellow EU leaders aimed at reducing welfare payments for migrants to the U.K. Several leading members of his Conservative Party, including London Mayor Boris Johnson, have rejected the agreement and are campaigning to leave the bloc.

‘Remain’ Leads

Most online polls continue to be inconclusive, with a BMG online survey for London’s Evening Standard newspaper published Thursday showing “Remain” ahead of “Leave” by 44 percent to 41 percent, with 15 percent undecided. Two recent phone surveys, by contrast, have shown double-digit leads for staying in.

The prime minister also talked about the benefits for BAE of different European countries taking the lead in negotiations for arms sales from joint projects, such as the Typhoon Eurofighter, around the world.

“With the Typhoon there’s an alliance of countries, so the Italians, the Germans and ourselves, we spend a lot of time trying to work out who’s best placed to try and win these export orders,” Cameron said. “We’ve got hopefully good news coming from Kuwait, and the Italians have been doing a lot of work there, the British have been working hard in Oman, we’ve got more work to do in Saudi Arabia and the Germans have done a lot of work as well.”

‘Collaborative Muscle’

“We use not just the collaborative skills of these countries, but also the collaborative muscle of all the governments to try and help make sure we can try and sell them around the world,” the premier said.

Meanwhile, opponents of Cameron’s deal used data released today showing that net migration to the U.K. remained in excess of 320,000 in the 12 months to end-September to attack the prime minister’s EU deal. Cameron has pledged to cut annual net migration to the “tens of thousands” and argues his deal will help by deterring EU migrants.

“The prime minister has lost control of our borders and lost the trust of the British people on migration,” the U.K. Independence Party’s migration spokesman, Steven Woolfe, said in a statement. “Unless we vote to leave the EU, Britain will be forever borderless. Our schools and our hospitals cannot cope with the number of people entering the country.”