LONDON (AP) — London’s mayor is pledging to fight to the bitter end to persuade voters to remain in the European Union in a June 23 referendum.
Sadiq Khan told The Associated Press on Sunday that it was time for political leaders who want the country to stay in the 28-nation bloc to present a more unified front — fighting together in common cause. Speaking on the sidelines of Queen Elizabeth II’s birthday celebrations, Khan offered an impassioned appeal to put aside differences that have dogged the message of the “remain” campaigners.
“If we believe that the European Union is important for our way of life, we’ve got to campaign together — door to door, street to street, city to city — to persuade our fellow citizens why this is so important to our future,” Khan said. ” I believe it is.”
Khan’s remarks reflect the perception that the race has grown ever tighter as the vote draws near. Though Khan, of the Labour Party, has campaigned with Prime Minister David Cameron, of the Conservatives, such high-profile efforts have been rare.
Much of the frustration of “remain” campaigners has been directed at Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who is seen as a less-than-enthusiastic supporter of the cause. In a Channel 4 interview, Corbyn put his commitment to remaining in the EU at seven on a scale of 10.
Labour for its part, on Sunday pledged extra support for communities facing pressure from migration as part of an effort to push more voters toward “remain.” Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown will lead the efforts to counter the charges of Brexit campaigners who warn of a threat to jobs and services from the influx of European workers.
“In the end, people are patriotic British citizens,” Brown told Sky News. “They are proud of our country and they are proud most of all when we lead, not stand apart, not standing outside isolated as some would want us to do.”
Khan argued that it was time to stop seeing the discussion through the prism of the ongoing fight within the Conservative Party, which has been riven by the vote.
“It’s much more important than that,” he said of party politics. “It’s about our children and grandchildren.”
He urged voters to consider the consequences, particularly to the economy.
“What would happen if we left?” Khan said “What would happen to those businesses that are American, Japanese, Chinese, that have their headquarters here in London?” Khan said, referring to the fact that many international businesses use the capital as the jumping off point for access to the single market of some 500 million.
“What happens to the business we do with Germany, France, Spain, Italy?” he said. “It’s really important.”