Despite the mixed response such international endorsements have been receiving, David Cameron is reported to be using the G7 summit in Japan to solicit the backing of more foreign leaders for the Remain campaign in the upcoming European Union (EU) referendum.
Although polling conducted in the aftermath of U.S. President Barack Obama’s intervention in the EU debate shows he may have damaged rather than aided the Remain campaign, Prime Minister David Cameron’s appetite for such overseas endorsements has not diminished.
To date the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff, Ed Llewellyn, and Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, have actively collected and co-ordinated international support for the UK’s continued membership of the EU. Now, the Financial Times reports Mr. Cameron will himself be hunting for more endorsements in Japan when he arrives there for the G7 summit of the wealthiest developed countries.
Although winning the endorsement of the major advanced economies yet to publicly declare against Brexit is not formally on the G7 agenda, the issue is bound to be discussed over the course of the the two-day summit.
Downing Street has played down the idea of a specific G7 statement on Brexit similar to that given by the World Economic Forum in January, but tacit approval is still coveted by the Remain campaign. An ally of the Prime Ministers explained:
“We are now in a phase of the campaign where people are starting to focus on the issues. If there are credible grown-up voices talking about the risk, that is a good thing.”
Leave campaigners take a different view of the “grown-up voices” the Prime Minister admires, suggesting that rather than being a strength, reliance on them gives the impression of the EU being a project for the global elite. Nevertheless they do recognise that the news coverage granted to such endorsements can drown out their anti-EU message.
With those voices from outside the EU being thought to carry most weight on account of their independence from the politico-trading bloc, especially from Commonwealth countries such as Australia and New Zealand, the presence of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the G7 in Ise-Shima will be watched with interest.
Sir Simon Fraser, a former permanent secretary at the Foreign Office, attempted to dismiss allegations that Mr. Osborne and Mr. Llewellyn have put words into the mouths of foreign leaders, claiming:
“You would expect a degree of co-ordination, but that’s not the same as putting somebody up to do it.”