David Cameron says Boris Johnson ‘didn’t believe in’ Brexit
David Cameron has claimed that Boris Johnson “didn’t believe in” Brexit, in a coruscating attack on the Conservative politicians who led the Leave campaign and are now responsible for executing the result.
Mr Cameron said the current prime minister only backed Leave to “help his political career”, believing Brexit was bound to be defeated but that the campaign would bolster his popularity with party activists.
The former Tory premier, in the latest extracts of his memoirs, also denounced Michael Gove — a former friend and now the minister in charge of preparing for a no deal exit — claiming that “disloyalty” was his defining feature.
He claimed that Mr Gove, whom he once regarded as a thoughtful, compassionate Conservative, had turned into a “foam-flecked Faragist” with his claim that tens of millions of Turks could come to Britain if Ankara’s bid to join the EU was successful.
In a withering takedown of both men, Cameron accuses Mr Johnson and Mr Gove of declaring “open warfare” on him and says they were guilty of “lying” to the public to win the referendum. New extracts of the memoir have now been published in the Sunday Times.
Mr Gove, who was a close family friend, campaigned for Leave and later backed Mr Johnson for the Tory leadership in 2016 before betraying him. “As for Michael, one quality shone through: disloyalty. Disloyalty to me and, later, disloyalty to Boris,” Mr Cameron wrote.
The former prime minister says Johnson backed leave despite being “certain the Brexit side would lose” — and despite being promised the post of defence secretary — because his concerns about sovereignty were “secondary to another concern for Boris: what was the best outcome for him?”
Mr Cameron says Johnson wanted to “become the darling of the party” and “didn’t want to risk allowing someone else with a high profile — Michael Gove in particular — to win that crown”.
Mr Cameron is a divisive figure in the UK, where he is blamed by many in favour of the remain cause for launching the EU referendum of 2016 on the assumption that the public would not back Leave.
In an interview with the Times newspaper published on Friday, the former Conservative prime minister accused both men of “trashing the government of which they were a part” in a way that was “ridiculous”.
Mr Cameron’s interview is the first time he has spoken extensively about the referendum campaign which plunged Britain into the current Brexit crisis and wrecked his six-year premiership.
He conceded that the outcome of the referendum had left him “hugely depressed” and argued that a second referendum might now be necessary to resolve the Brexit impasse.