David Cameron will make the case for remaining in the European Union tonight in the first major television event of the referendum campaign.
The Prime Minister will be interviewed at length by Sky News’ political editor Faisal Islam before Kay Burley invites questions from a studio audience which has been weighted to include inners, outers and the undecided.
After a stronger start, the Remain campaign appears to have been losing ground in the opinion polls to Vote Leave as the Brexiteers have turned their focus towards immigration.
For the first time, a telephone poll by ICM for The Guardian newspaper has suggested a 4% lead for Vote Leave (52%) over Stronger In (48%) once ‘don’t knows’ are excluded.
And now Sky News has been shown internal polling by Vote Leave which will apply even further pressure on Mr Cameron before he takes to the stage.
The ICM poll of 2,052 people conducted between the 27 and 30 May shows that 58% would be unhappy if current levels of EU migration continue.
It also suggests 55% of those questioned think EU migration has been bad for the NHS, while 67% believe it has put pressure on housing.
UKIP MP and Out campaigner Douglas Carswell told Sky News: “People are clearly very unhappy, not only that there is unrestricted of movement from people from the EU, but that nothing has been done about it.
“David Cameron is going to have to answer some pretty tough questions.”
But the In camp believes the economic impact of a Brexit should remain the overarching issue, with warnings mounting up from international organisations including the G7 and IMF.
Most recently the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) said a Brexit could make every household in the UK £3,200 worse off each year by 2030.
Damian Collins, Conservative MP and Stronger In campaigner, said: “The cost to the British economy for coming out of the EU and being outside the single market is much greater than the cost of what we pay in.”
Mr Cameron is being offered advice on his performance by one of his former advisors Phillip Blond, who was one of the guiding lights behind the leader’s ‘big society’ drive.
“If he remains calm and talks about if we can turn the whole of Europe into a secure zone and we keep terrorists at the borders, I think he will win the debate,” he told Sky News.
“If, however, he panics and produces too extreme views I think (that) will alienate people who have legitimate concerns about Europe.”
The day after Mr Cameron, it will be Michael Gove’s turn for Vote Leave.
When asked if he had any suggestions for his referendum rival and Cabinet boss, the Justice Secretary replied: “I won’t advise the Prime Minister on his appearance on Sky. I just wish him good luck.”