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David Cameron: Boris Johnson told me Leave campaign would be ‘crushed’

3 min read

Boris Johnson predicted that the Leave campaign would be “crushed” in the EU referendum, David Cameron has revealed.

The Prime Minister made the prediction in a conversation with Mr Cameron after he finally decided to back Brexit ahead of the 2016 vote.

Mr Cameron made the sensational revelation in an interview with The Times ahead of the publication of his memoirs next week.

He also condemned Mr Johnson’s decision to suspend Parliament and sack 21 Tory rebels who backed opposition moves to block a no-deal Brexit.

The former Tory leader, who has kept a low profile since standing down in the days following the Remain side’s defeat, said Mr Johnson “thought he was going to lose”.

When it was suggested to him that the former London mayor looked “shell-shocked” in a speech he gave on the morning the result was announced, Mr Cameron said: “Well, I was so shell-shocked I didn’t really recognise the symptoms, but when he made the decision to back Leave he said, ‘Brexit will be crushed.”

He adds that both Mr Johnson and key Vote Leave ally Michael Gove had behaved “appallingly” in the run-up to the June vote.

He continued: "I say in the book: Boris had never argued for leaving the EU, right? Michael was a very strong Eurosceptic, but someone whom I’d known as this liberal, compassionate, rational Conservative ended up making arguments about Turkey [joining] and being swamped and what have you.

"They were trashing the government of which they were a part, effectively."

The ex-PM went on to criticise Mr Johnson over his decision to suspend Parliament for five weeks in the run-up to the 31 October Brexit deadline.

And he rebuked his decision to oust figures such as Ken Clarke and Sir Nicholas Soames from the party, after they backed the bill that forces the Government to seek an extension to the Brexit process if a deal is not reached by 19 October.

"Of course, as a new prime minister, I wished Boris well," Mr Cameron added. "I wanted him to get a deal from the EU that would have passed in the House of Commons."

"If that was to happen, I would have been elated. But clearly, while he started out down that road, the strategy has morphed into something quite different.

“Taking the whip from hard-working Conservative MPs and sharp practices using prorogation of Parliament have rebounded. I didn’t support either of those things. Neither do I think a no-deal Brexit is a good idea.”


Mr Cameron went on to say that leaving the EU without an agreement would be “a bad outcome”, adding: “I very much hope it doesn’t happen. I don’t think it should be pursued.”

He also broke from both his successors, in Theresa May and Mr Johnson, by claiming that a second referendum on whether to quit the bloc at all could not be ruled out.

“I don’t think you can rule it out because we’re stuck,” he said.

“I’m not saying one will happen or should happen. I’m just saying that you can’t rule things out right now because you’ve got to find some way of unblocking the blockage.

“I think there are certain things you shouldn’t do to unblock the blockage. I think proroguing parliament – pretending it doesn’t exist – I think that would be a bad thing.”

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