David Cameron today claimed peace in Europe would be at risk if the UK votes to leave the EU on June 23.
In a speech in which he focused on UK and European security, the Prime Minister warned Brexit could lead to the “peace and stability” of the continent being undermined.
Speaking this morning, Cameron also took direct aim at Cabinet colleague Michael Gove – who is calling for a Leave vote in June – after he suggested the UK might not stay in the Single Market.
Vote Leave, the official Brexit campaign group, hit back at Cameron’s claims, arguing it was in fact Nato and the US which had played a pivotal role in keeping post-Second World War peace in Europe.
In a speech at the British Museum in London, the Prime Minister argued the UK had been intertwined with Europe throughout history “for good and ill”.
He said: "Whenever we turn our back on Europe, sooner or later we come to regret it.
"We have always had to go back in, and always at much higher cost.
"The serried rows of white headstones in lovingly-tended Commonwealth war cemeteries stand as silent testament to the price this country has paid to help restore peace and order in Europe."
He added: “Can we be so sure that peace and stability on our continent are assured beyond any shadow of doubt?”
“I would never be so rash as to make that assumption.
“It’s barely been 20 years since war in the Balkans and genocide in Srebrenica. In the last few years, we have seen tanks rolling into Georgia and Ukraine.
“The European Union has helped reconcile countries which were at each others’ throats for decades.
“Britain has a fundamental national interest in maintaining common purpose in Europe to avoid future conflict between European countries.”
Before addressing security concerns, Cameron hit back at claims made by his Cabinet colleague Michael Gove that if the UK left the EU, it would have access to the Single Market but not be a part of it.
After saying that Brexiters are unable to “answer the most basic questions” about what life would be like outside the EU, the Prime Minister said: “Others say we will definitely leave the Single Market, including yesterday the Vote Leave campaign, despite the critical importance of the Single Market to jobs and investment in our country.
"I can only describe this as a reckless and irresponsible course. These are people’s jobs and livelihoods that are being toyed with and the Leave campaign have no answers to the most basic questions.”
Ukip leader Nigel Farage dismissed claims that the EU had provided peace on the continent, and argued it had in fact "increased hostility in Europe".
He said: "Ultimately it is a lack of democracy that leads to war and conflict. The EU's crushing of democracy in Greece has led to the rise of extreme parties such as Golden Dawn.
"Does Mr. Cameron really think the violent clashes in Athens last night represent peace?
"The anti-democratic EU, far from bringing countries together, has divided Europe. As they continue to drive through the failed Euro single currency project, it is the lives of ordinary citizens across Europe who suffer at the hands of the EU nationalists who refuse to contemplate anything than deeper, total and complete EU integration."