Economy and immigration focus of Cameron and Farage EU questions

David Cameron and Nigel Farage have set out the cases for remaining in and leaving the EU in a live programme on ITV.

The prime minister warned Brexit supporters like Mr Farage were "prepared to sacrifice jobs and growth" to leave the EU and said he did not think the British public were "quitters".

Mr Farage said the referendum could be the "one and only chance" to control immigration and called for the reintroduction of British passports to "make this country safer".

Live: The latest reaction following Cameron and Farage's appearance

The two party leaders each took questions from a live studio audience in an event moderated by ITV's Julie Etchingham.

Voters will take part in an in/out referendum on Britain's EU membership on June 23.

  • Farage focuses on immigration

The Ukip leader was first to take to the stage, with many of his answers focusing around the issue of immigration.

He said the existing open borders policy was damaging the UK and that the vote may be the "one and only chance" to get a grip on immigration.

Mr Farage was questioned about his claims that remaining in the EU could lead to Cologne-style sex attacks.

He denied the comments were scaremongering and said German Chancellor Angela Merkel had made a mistake by allowing so many migrants into her country.

"A very large number of young, single males have settled in Germany and in Sweden, who come from cultures where attitudes towards women are different," Mr Farage said. "I haven't scaremongered in any way, at all."

He was asked if he was "embarrassed" that Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby had said that he was "legitimising racism" earlier today. He said: "I think he would have done better to have read what I said and not what the headline was, and he would do well to see what the head of the Roman Catholic church in Germany has said, because he's made some very robust comments indeed."

Mr Farage maintained that just 12% of Britain's entire economy is made up of exports to the EU and dismissed predictions that the country's economy would suffer in the event of a Brexit.

Fact check: Cameron v Farage EU claims round-up

He said people predicting an economic downturn have "been wrong before and they're wrong again", pointing to Britain's decision to join the exchange rate mechanism and not sign up to the Euro as times experts had got the outcome wrong.

Mr Farage said the "same gang" was saying "terrible things" will happen if Britain leaves the EU.

"They've been wrong before and they're wrong again," he said.

  • Economy front and centre for Cameron

As expected, the prime minister spent much of his time on stage promoting the economic benefits of remaining in the EU.

He hit back at comments by Mr Farage that the quality of life of voters was being ignored by a debate focused on the potential economic impact of leaving, saying it was wrong to dismiss the importance of GDP.

"He is basically saying it doesn't really matter," Mr Cameron told the audience.

"He is so keen to get us out of Europe that he is prepared to sacrifice jobs and growth along the way. We mustn't do that."

The prime minister said remaining in the UK was Britain's best chance to thrive and that there was "a real consensus that we would be worse off if we leave".

David Cameron takes questions from the audience. Credit: ITV

He admitted "forecasters don't always get it right", but added: "I don't remember a time when had such a consensus."

Brexit would reduce Britain's global influence, Mr Cameron added.

The prime minister said he wanted Britain to be "the leader" and "the winners" in Europe and the world but Brexit was not the answer.

"We don't enhance our influence by walking away or quitting, we reduce our influence," he said.

Mr Cameron also defended his renegotiation of Britain's EU membership, saying that he got guarantees for the pound, obtained targets to cut regulation, and "got us out of an ever-closer union."

  • 'The ITV Referendum Debate' takes place on Thursday at 8pm, moderated by Julie Etchingham