LONDON –– Politicians have been making their last pitch for votes on the final day of campaigning before the EU referendum.
David Cameron and Jeremy Corbyn have told rallies in Bristol and London that a Remain vote in Thursday’s poll will mean the UK is safer and better off.
But Boris Johnson said a vote to leave would show people “believe in our country” and Nigel Farage urged people to act “with their heart and soul”.
More than 46 million people are eligible to vote in the referendum.
The UK public are being asked to choose whether the UK should stay in the European Union or leave in the first vote on the country’s membership of the bloc for more than 40 years.
The four-month campaign is reaching a climax with last-minute appeals to undecided voters from both sides.
Cameron has appeared alongside former Conservative Prime Minister Sir John Major and former Labour PM Gordon Brown, former Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman and Lib Dem leader Tim Farron, at events in Bristol and Birmingham.
He has been pushing the message that Thursday’s decision will be irreversible and there will no coming back if the UK votes to leave.
“You can’t jump out the aeroplane and then clamber back through the cockpit hatch,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today.
Leaving the EU would be a “massive problem” for the UK, he said, doing “untold damage” to economic growth, jobs and family finances and hindering the opportunities and life chances of future generations, he argued.
And he took a swipe at cabinet colleague and Leave campaigner Michael Gove, who has compared Remain’s economic experts to Nazi propagandists, telling a crowd in Birmingham that the Leave campaign had “lost it”.
Cameron also said he would lobby for further changes to free movement rules in the light of European Court rulings if the UK voted to remain, and said the process of EU reform would “continue on Friday” and that reducing net migration was “not an unrealistic ambition”.
However, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker appeared to reject that option as he told reporters in Brussels “out is out”, suggesting that if there was a vote to leave “there will be no kind of renegotiation”, saying David Cameron “got the maximum he could receive” after months of talks which ended in February.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn –– who has refused to share a platform with fellow Remain campaigner David Cameron –– urged his party’s supporters to “get out on to the streets” and persuade people to vote Remain.
He attacked the Leave camp for its focus on immigration, saying: “Don’t blame the migrant worker for being exploited, blame the company that’s exploiting them.”
In his speech, in Birmingham, Gordon Brown said Britain should be “leading in Europe, never leaving,” while Sir John Major branded Leave supporters “gravediggers of our prosperity”.
But Boris Johnson and other Leave campaigners said only a vote to leave the EU could give the UK the freedom it needed to set its own course, rejecting the economic forecasts suggesting the country would face a downturn following Brexit.
Speaking in London’s Billingsgate fish market ahead of embarking on a whirlwind tour of England, the former mayor of London urged people to “believe in our country” and seize the moment.
He later dismissed warnings of a stock market crash if Britain leaves, saying: “This is all part of the attempt to spook people. I think actually it will be very calm. Everybody has more or less priced in either outcome.”
He claimed what he called the “Project Fear” tactics from the Remain camp had been a mistake, adding: “I think we have run a very positive and enthusiastic campaign.
“It has just been fantastic to see so many people motivated by a love of their country and a desire to restore democracy.”
UKIP leader Nigel Farage told his final event of the campaign in London: “At the end of the day tomorrow when people vote they have to make a decision –– which flag is theirs? I want us to live under British passports and under the British flag.”
Farage said it had been a “long, lonely road” for him and his party –– which has campaigned for EU exit for more than 20 years –– and he believed his party’s supporters would “crawl over broken glass” to vote for Brexit.
He urged others yet to have made up their mind to “vote with their heart and soul”, saying he wanted Britain to be a “normal country that makes its own laws and is in charge of its own destiny in the future”.
Corbyn, appearing alongside Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones, Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, said that while the EU was not perfect it was the best “cross-border framework for defending living standards. rights and protections for our people”.
In Scotland, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has united with her four living predecessors to back a vote for the UK to remain in the EU.
The final debates of the campaign will take place on Wednesday evening on Channel 4 and BBC One Wales. In the biggest setpiece event of the campaign on Tuesday, the two sides clashed in front of thousands of people at Wembley Arena in the BBC Great Debate.
In other referendum news, actress Elizabeth Hurley declared on Twitter that she will be voting for Brexit while Daniel Craig, the James Bond star, has been pictured wearing a Remain t-shirt on his Instagram account and chef Jamie Oliver posted a picture of a pie with the words “I’m in” inscribed on it.
Provisional figures released by the Electoral Commission on Tuesday suggest 46,499,537 people are eligible to vote in the referendum –– a record number for a UK-wide poll.