EU Referendum Not About Immigration, William Hague Tells Voters

Matt Cardy via Getty Images

Voters should not base their decision on which way to vote in the referendum on immigration, Lord Hague has said.

The former leader of the Conservative Party said this morning told the British public to make a decision on the basis of "sound common sense" about the economy.

David Cameron and the 'Remain' campaign hope the economic argument will win them the referendum on June 23. The 'Leave' campaign has focused more on immigration.

Lord Hague told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "Immigration is not the issue on which to decide this referendum; it’s what’s best for our economic growth in the future and that is undoubtedly to stay in the European Union."

"This referendum is not about sending signals. It is about making a decision that will affect people’s livelihoods and future for decades to come," he said.

The former foreign secretary added the choice in the referendum, which has split the Tory party down the middle, was "between the lesser of evils".

During his time as leader of the party, Lord Hague was a fierce eurosceptic."I remain a critic of the European Union in so many of the ways that I have been over the years," he said. "But you still have to make a cool-headed decision when it comes to leaving it as to whether it’s in the interests of the people of this country."

Last night, David Cameron was grilled by an ITV audience night for his failure to keep immigration below 100,000.

The prime minister, who urged viewers to back “Great Britain” not “Little England”, was jeered when he admitted he couldn’t put a figure on how much his Brussels renegotiation would cut foreign national numbers.