David Cameron: EU referendum claim fact-checked


Former Prime Minister David Cameron was asked on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme whether he had any regrets about calling the 2016 referendum and whether he did it for “party management reasons”? Mr Cameron said “every party was under pressure on this issue… every single political party in Britain fought an election between 2005 and 2015 with a pledge to hold a referendum.” Is he right?

Not every party consistently argued for a straightforward in/out referendum, with the option of leaving the EU altogether, in that time. But it’s true to say that membership of the EU as an issue for political parties pre-dated 2014. That was the year that the UK Independence Party (UKIP) won the most votes in the European Parliamentary elections, sweeping away their far more established competitors.

“I’ve read so many times… that the referendum came about because the Tories got whacked by UKIP in the 2014 elections,” Mr Cameron said. But he denied this, saying that support for a referendum “wasn’t a flash in the pan”. The Liberal Democrats, although staunchly opposed to the UK leaving the EU, were the first major political party to call for an in/out referendum.

Current leader of the party Jo Swinson said in Parliament in 2008 that the Liberal Democrats “would like to have a referendum on the major issue of whether we are in or out of Europe”.(BBC)…[+]