Prime Minister David Cameron was hammered by voters over his failure to reduce immigration in his last televised appearance before the European Union (EU) referendum.
Mr Cameron was compared to Neville Chamberlain — the Prime Minister infamous for his appeasement of Hitler — for failing to stand up to EU leaders during his attempted renegotiation, with one woman saying public services were being “flooded” thanks to high levels of immigration.
The Prime Minister tried to answer criticisms by saying there was no “silver bullet” to bring numbers down, and leaving the EU would damage the country’s economy.
However, other members of the audience accused him of “scaremongering” over economics.
One young woman told him: “I think that it’s an only logical thing to understand that if we have absolutely no limitations on immigration from the EU that people are obviously going to immigrate over here.
“We’ve got our public sector, we’ve got an NHS that’s under tremendous strain at the moment — you’re not doing anything to invest any kind of thing into them to make them any stronger or better — knowing full well that if we don’t put a limit on this immigration — and the only way to do that is to leave the single market — then everything is just going to get flooded.
“You’re not doing anything to counterbalance all the immigration coming into these services.”
Mr Cameron tried to answer by saying that the best way to protect funding for the NHS was to have a strong economy by staying in a “reformed” EU, but an audience member hit back: “You keep saying this reformed European Union that we are part of.
“Yes, fair enough you’ve negotiated some changes that you say ‘oh it’s going to make a massive difference to the immigration’.
“But realistically it’s not, it’s not going to make a massive difference to the levels of immigration, especially considering we have other countries that are about to join the European Union.”
At another point, a member of the audience compared Mr Cameron to Neville Chamberlain, who, just months before the Second World War started, returned from talks with Hitler waving a piece of paper promising peace.
The man said: “Mr Cameron, you say that your policy that you’ve negotiated with Europe cannot be overruled – it can.
“So are you really a 21st century Neville Chamberlain waving a piece of paper in the air saying to the public this is what I have, I have this promise where a dictatorship in Europe can overrule it?”
Invoking the memory of Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister responded: “He didn’t quit, he didn’t quit on Europe, he didn’t quit on European democracy, he didn’t quit on European freedom.”
However, he then refused to commit to vetoing Turkish membership of the EU, batting the issue off as a “red herring” because it will not happen for another 30 years.
Pressed by presenter David Dimbleby, the Prime Minister eventually responded: “If this was going to happen in the next couple of years I would not support it, but it’s not going to. This is about 30, 40 years’ time.”