Brexit: Cameron considered last-ditch appeal to Merkel
David Cameron made a late appeal to Germany's Angela Merkel for limits on free movement of people if the UK voted Remain, BBC Newsnight has learned.
The then-prime minister called the German leader days before the EU referendum, as opinion polls seemed to show voters moving to the Leave camp.
But he later abandoned the idea of getting her and other EU leaders to make a statement granting concessions.
No 10 decided it could be portrayed by Vote Leave as a sign of weakness.
Newsnight has learned that Mr Cameron telephoned the German chancellor to ask whether she would be willing to issue a statement with fellow EU leaders granting the UK concessions on free movement.
Under the plan, thrashed out at a meeting in Downing Street, the president of France Francois Hollande, the European Council president Donald Tusk and the European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker would all put their names to the joint statement by EU leaders.
The former prime minister approached his German counterpart after Vote Leave had dominated the campaign in the wake of the publication of official migration statistics at the end of May. These showed the government had once again failed to meet its net migration target.
The idea of a joint statement by EU leaders was eventually shelved.
Newsnight understands that at an EU summit after the EU referendum the German chancellor made it clear to Mr Cameron that there could be no compromise for EU members on rules governing the free movement of people.