WATCH David Cameron: ‘Of course I don’t regret calling the Brexit referendum’

Posted On: 
11th December 2018

David Cameron has said he does not regret holding the Brexit referendum.

David Cameron was stopped by a reporter while getting into the back of a car
Credit: 
Dan Whitehead/ Sky News

The former Prime Minister said he was bound by a manifesto commitment to call the vote, although he admitted he was “very concerned” after Theresa May’s decision to call off the planned Commons vote on her Brexit deal threw Westminster into fresh turmoil.

Leaving an event in central London, Mr Cameron told a Sky News reporter: “Of course I don’t regret calling a referendum. I made a promise in the election to call a referendum, and I called the referendum.

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“Obviously I’m very concerned about what’s happening today, but I do support the Prime Minister in her efforts to try and have a close partnership with the EU.

“That’s the right thing to do, and she has my support.”

Mrs May made the decision to cancel the vote after conceding that her plans would be voted down “by a significant margin” due to concerns about the Northern Irish backstop plan.

The PM will instead travel to Brussels in a bid to win fresh concessions from EU leaders – although has been told by senior figures including EU Council President Donald Tusk and Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar that there is no better deal on offer.

Her decision risks further fury from Tory backbenchers, who are believed to be nearer the threshold of 48 letters that would instigate a no confidence vote in her as Tory leader and PM.

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Meanwhile, another former Prime Minister blasted the "breathtaking ignorance" of those who oppose the backstop.

The arrangement, to keep an open border in Ireland, has proven the main sticking point, given it could see the UK stuck in a permanent customs arrangement with the EU, with separate trade regulations for Northern Ireland.

But John Major suggested there was a risk of violence returning to the province if physical checks or infrastructure were put in place at the border again after Britain leaves the EU.

"Some opinion has shown a breathtaking ignorance of the likely impact unsettling the Good Friday Agreement will have on Ireland, north and south," he said.

"To them, the Irish demand for a backstop is a bogus ploy, a bogus ploy to keep the UK in a customs union.

"In truth, a backstop is of vital national interest for Ireland and for the United Kingdom."