Former PM vents fury in his memoirs at his old colleagues over their stance on Brexit
Boris Johnson is a liar who only backed the Leave campaign to help his career and Michael Gove was a foam-flecked Faragist whose one quality was disloyalty, David Cameron writes in his memoirs.
The former prime minister poured vituperation on both his former colleagues Priti Patel, the current home secretary, and Dominic Cummings, the No 10 adviser, in extracts from the book published on Sunday.
Cameron writes that Johnsons claims of concerns about British sovereignty were secondary to another concern for Boris: what was the best outcome for him?
Johnson risked an outcome he didnt believe in because it would help his political career and was open to a second referendum after a renegotiation, according to a Sunday Times account of Camerons book, For The Record.
Cameron is even more acerbic about Gove, who was once his close friend. Writing about Goves decision to stand against Johnson for Tory leader, he says: As for Michael, one quality shone through: disloyalty. Disloyalty to me and, later, disloyalty to Boris.
Their conduct during the EU referendum campaign amounted to open warfare and the pair seemed to be different people by the end, Cameron writes. Both then behaved appallingly, attacking their own government, turning a blind eye to their sides unpleasant actions and becoming ambassadors for the expert-trashing, truth-twisting age of populism.
He said Patels attacks on his governments immigration record shocked me most but he did not want to fire her and create a Brexit martyr. Cummings was part of a cauldron of toxicity with Nigel Farage, he says.
Reaction to Camerons memoirs has seen the former PM attacked by Conservatives from all wings of the party.
Brexiters were enraged by his suggestion that a second referendum might be necessary and that the Vote Leave campaign lied.
But Justine Greening, Camerons former international development secretary who now sits as an independent MP, said his decision to hold the EU referendum had proved to be a horrendous mistake that turned a Tory obsession into a national issue.
Greening said she had most concerns about how the Remain campaign was conducted, with major failings in an elitist Remain campaign that had failed to reach out enough sufficiently to young voters. Patently, looking at the situation that Britain finds itself in now, as well as the Tory party, it was a horrendous mistake, she said. He took the one thing that divided the Tory party and managed to put it centre stage.
The campaign was far too negative. It was quite staid, elitist, well-to-do. It needed to reach out far more to younger voters and talk about their opportunities, their futures. Instead they just played Ukip at their own game and lost.
In the book Cameron says that he is truly sorry for the uncertainty and division that had followed the 2016 referendum, and in his first interview he suggested a second poll might be necessary. I dont think you can rule it out, because were stuck, he told the Times.
The hardline Brexiter and former cabinet minister John Redwood said Cameron risked deepening national divides by wading back into the Brexit debate, and that he should be proud of having called the referendum, not ashamed of it.
I dont accept that, he said when asked about Camerons claim that Vote Leave lied. I dont really think David Cameron reopening arguments in the referendum campaign is helping achieve what he says he wants to achieve, which is the country settling down again and accepting the decision it has made, he told the BBCs Today programme.
Cameron detailed his regrets about losing the referendum, but refused to apologise for calling the poll, and said that renegotiating Britains EU membership and holding a referendum was the right approach. However, the former prime ministers re-emergence has unleashed a fresh debate about his role in the Brexit impasse and his motives for holding the referendum, including among many who were once close to him.