Accentuate the Positive to Keep U.K. in EU, Lords Tell Cameron

  • Spirit of English soccer fans singing French anthem is needed
  • Playing on voters' fears not enough to win June 23 referendum

U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron should present a positive vision of the European Union rather than using fear to persuade people to vote to stay in the bloc, a House of Lords panel said.

QuickTake Brexit

To win the June 23 referendum, the “Remain” campaign will require the support of people from across the political spectrum, the upper chamber’s European Union Committee said in a report published on Wednesday. That means appealing to the values Britain shares with other EU nations.

The government “needs to try to capture the spirit that we saw in Wembley last year, when England football fans sang the Marseillaise after the attacks in Paris,” Tim Boswell, chairman of the cross-party committee, said in an statement. “Playing on voters’ fears may not be enough.”

Cameron’s renegotiation of the terms of Britain’s membership of the EU was “a significant achievement,” though it was too complex to change many people’s voting intention, the report said. A better approach would be to make a case for remaining that demonstrated benefits for people from all income brackets across the U.K.

“When he speaks of ‘prosperity,’ it must be clear that he means ‘prosperity for all,” the report said. “A campaign based on narrow national self-interest, alongside fear of the alternatives to membership, would be insufficient.”

Groups campaigning for Britain to leave the EU have accused Cameron of running “project fear” as he tries to persuade people to stay. London Mayor Boris Johnson, the favorite with bookmakers to be the next prime minister, says the pro-EU campaign is dominated by lobbyists with a lucrative vested interest in the outcome.

“There’s an enormous industry of lobbyists” run by “people turning left on the plane because of our membership of the European Union,” Johnson said last week in a reference to first-class air travel.

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