David Cameron has been hit with some tough public questions on his plans for migration

 
Mark Sands
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David Cameron Answers Questions With Business Staff In Hendon
David Cameron faced some tough questions on immigration last night (Source: Getty)

Prime Minister David Cameron has conceded the UK could survive outside the EU but maintained the country would be bolstered by retaining its membership, in an evening which also saw the PM come under pressure on immigration.

Cameron was grilled by members of the public in the latest stage of the EU referendum campaign, taking to the stage after Ukip leader Nigel Farage was forced to defend himself against claims of anti-immigrant sentiment.

The Prime Minister dropped a pair of surprising admissions, including that the UK would not be crushed by a vote to Leave.

“We can certainly survive, I think the question is how do we thrive,” he said.

And on relations with Scotland, Cameron also revealed he worries “about a second Scottish referendum if we vote to leave.”

However, he faced the greatest pressure on immigration, with the audience in the ITV studio left audibly groaning by his refusal to predict reductions in net migration from changes to migrant benefits brought about by his renegotiation with the EU.

One small business owner accused the Prime Minister of being “humiliated” by the EU over migration reform, and Cameron also faced pressure from individuals over the availability of housing and GPs.

Nonetheless, the Prime Minister maintained that these issues would be worsened by the economic consequences of a vote to leave.

“If we want to build houses, invest in the health service, or get good schools for our children we need to safeguard our economy,” he said.

Cameron's session came after Farage faced claims about scaremongering and racism following recent comments about British women being at risk of sex attacks from migrants if the UK opts to remain.

“It is a tiddly little issue as far as I'm concerned in this election campaign,” he said, denying that his stance was anti-immigrant.

“If you've got a qualification and you come from India or parts of Africa, then it's very difficult to get into this country.”

“I take a view that is strongly pro commonwealth. Rather than an open door, it will be better for black people coming into Britain who currently find it very difficult,” he said.

Separately, Farage also forecast the end of the EU within 20 years, describing the European project as "a catastrophe”, and calling instead for a continent of “good neighbours in the same street.”

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