Remain and Leave clash in final EU referendum debate

Remain and Leave campaigners have clashed at the final major EU referendum debate before polls open on Thursday.

The BBC debate took place in front of 6,000 people at Wembley Arena.

Participants included Boris Johnson for Leave, and his successor as Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, who is backing Remain.

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Remain and Leave campaigners clash after EU debate

ITV News Political Editor Robert Peston was in the 'spin room' at the final EU referendum debate at Wembley Arena, where Will Straw, campaign chief of Britain Stronger In Europe, clashed with Leave campaigner Michael Gove after the debate finished.

Mr Gove said "it is the Remain camp which has been trying to spread fear and talk Britain down", while Will Straw accused the Leave campaign of "spreading lies".

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Leave: 'Thursday can be our independence day'

In the Leave campaign's closing statements, Boris Johnson said Thursday's vote "could be our country's independence day".

They say we can't do it. We say we can. They say we have no choice but to bow down to Brussels. We say they are woefully underestimating this country and what it can do.

If we vote leave we can take back control of our borders; of huge sums of money, £10 billion a year net; of our tax raising powers; of our trade policy and of our whole law making system.

The democracy that is the foundation of our prosperity and if we stand up for democracy we will be speaking up for hundreds of millions of people around Europe who agree with us, but who currently have no voice.

And if we vote leave and take back control, I believe that his Thursday can be our country's independence day.

– Boris Johnson

Remain: 'We refuse to dismiss the experts'

In the Remain campaign's closing statement at the final debate on the EU Referendum before Thursday's vote, the leader of the Scottish Conservative Party Ruth Davidson said "we refuse to dismiss the experts".

I know the EU isn't perfect, but the benefits far outweigh any costs. And the Britain that I know, the Britain that I love, works with its friends and neighbours, it doesn't walk away from them.

Sadiq, Frances and I, we refuse to dismiss the experts, we listen to them and the economists, the scientists, the businesses the trade unions, the health professionals, they all argue that Britain is better off in. You are better off in.

There is nothing more positive than having a stronger economy supporting jobs and opportunities and that's why I believe you should vote remain.

– Ruth Davidson

Fact check: 'EU bureaucrats do not account for themselves fiscally'

A vote for Brexit means "taking back control" from unelected unaccountable bureaucrats who do not represent Britain - and don’t account for themselves fiscally - according to Conservative MP Priti Patel.

This mildly cryptic remark refers to the claim we often hear: the EU’s budget hasn’t been signed off by auditors for years, fact-checking organisation Full Full explain.

Both sides have a point. The EU’s Court of Auditors regularly “signs off”—in its own words—the reliability of the accounts themselves, and has given them a clean bill of health for the last eight years.

But it has found significant errors in how the money is paid out consistently since it began giving opinions in 1995.

Ultimately, it depends on what you think the term “signed off” implies about the accounts.

Fact check: 'Irish border controls would be imposed in case of Brexit'

The Irish Prime Minister said border controls would need to be imposed - including in Belfast and Derry - if the UK left the EU, according to TUC General Secretary Frances O'Grady.

Nobody can be sure what would happen to borders between the Republic of Ireland and the UK if Britain left the EU, according to fact-checking organisation Full Fact, analysing the live BBC referendum debate.

Claims that there would or wouldn’t be border controls on the island of Ireland are predictions, not facts, at this stage - even if they come from the Irish Prime Minister.

It essentially depends on whether the UK puts restrictions on EU immigration.

Claims that this would change if the UK left the EU assume that current measures to police the currently open border wouldn’t be enough to handle an influx of EU immigrants coming across it.

If the UK wanted to put restrictions on EU immigration or short visits after leaving, that might generate more illegal cross-border movement. At the moment, police only have to catch unauthorised migrants from non-EU countries.

It’s at least possible that increased pressure on the border force could lead to a demand either for passport checks at the north/south border, or passport checks between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

Northern Irish politicians report that heavier policing at ports and airports, rather than the land border, would be the government's preferred solution.


Fact check: 'European Court is supreme authority in UK'

Credit: BBC

The Court of Justice of the European Union is the supreme legal authority in the UK, according to Boris Johnson.

When it comes to EU law, that is about right, although there are plenty of areas that the EU simply has no role in, according to fact-checking organisation Full Fact, analysing the live BBC referendum debate.

EU laws in areas for which the EU is responsible override any conflicting laws of member countries. The EU court ultimately decides what EU law means.

The European Communities Act, passed by Parliament in 1972, accepted the supremacy of EU law. That principle has also been endorsed by the UK courts.

But that won’t apply much in areas such as welfare and social security, education, criminal law, family law and the NHS, where the direct influence of the EU is far more limited.

Our own Supreme Court makes plenty of decisions without any guidance from the EU court in Luxembourg.

Fact check: 'Migrants contribute more to UK economy than they take from it'

Migrants contribute more to the UK economy than they take from it, according to SNP politician Humza Yousaf.

But it is a bit more complicated than that, according to fact-checking organisation Full Fact, analysing the live BBC referendum debate.

Most studies agree immigration makes a relatively small difference to the UK’s public finances overall, costing or contributing less than 1% of UK GDP.

Beyond that national picture, people’s own experiences of immigration will vary: if you have lost your job, it might not matter to you whether the economy as a whole has gained jobs.

Different groups of immigrants have different economic impacts: EU immigrants are generally better for the public finances than non-EU immigrants, while recently-arrived immigrants are generally better for the public finances for the UK than those who have been in the UK for longer.

No single study can say definitively what difference immigration makes - precise numbers should be handled with care.

Each study depends a lot on the assumptions made by researchers about costs of education and effects on general economic growth.

Fact check: 'Brexit means additional £10 billion for public services'

The UK would have an additional £10 billion at its disposal to spend on public services if it left the EU, according to Conservative MP Andrea Leadsom.

That is indeed in the ballpark of what we pay towards the EU budget annually - £8.5 billion in 2015 - although it doesn’t take into account several billion pounds that comes back in EU spending in the UK.

It is fair to say that spending doesn’t necessarily go on "our priorities" though, according to fact-checking organisation Full Fact, analysing the live BBC referendum debate.

But overall, most economists think that public finances would lose out if the UK left the EU.

The consensus is that the hit to the economy, and the resulting drop in tax receipts and rise in welfare spending, would more than wipe out the membership fee saving.

Three leading independent economic institutions have recently repeated that it’s “almost certainly untrue” that the UK would have £10 billion for public services if it left.

Fact check: 'EU immigrants must leave UK if they don't find work in six months'

EU immigrants in the UK must leave the country if they don't find a job within six months of arrival, according to Scottish Conservative leader and Remain campaigner Ruth Davidson.

This is not necessarily true, according to fact-checking organisation Full Fact, analysing the live BBC referendum debate.

The European Union court said in 1991 that the UK can deport jobseekers from other EU countries who haven’t found work after six months “unless the person concerned provides evidence that he is continuing to seek employment and that he has genuine chances of being engaged”.

The UK now requires "compelling evidence" that this is the case. But if that evidence is available, people are entitled to stay for longer.

And an EU citizen who can support themselves without calling on the welfare system can also stay, employed or not.

So far as we’re aware, there are no figures on how many people are removed from the country because they fall foul of this rule.

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