The former prime minister called the German chancellor in the days before last month’s referendum vote as opinion polls showed voters moving towards leave, after the government again missed its target for cutting net migration, according to BBC2’s Newsnight.
However, the plan for European leaders to issue a statement promising concessions on the issue was said to have been abandoned due to fears it could be portrayed as a sign of weakness by the Leave campaign.
The pollster Lord Cooper, a close ally of Cameron, told Newsnight: “The people who are very, very concerned about immigration, what they wanted was purely and simply for the UK to be able to have total control of its borders and total control of the flow of people into this country. And we didn’t have an argument that could remotely compete with that.
“It meant we couldn’t really engage in the campaign on that vital issue. We didn’t have much option but to keep trying to pivot back to the economic risks.”
David Cameron made a last-minute appeal to Angela Merkel to limit free movement of people if the UK voted to remain in the #European Union, it has been reported.