Tory donor calls for leadership contest after EU referendum

Posted On: 
25th March 2016

A major donor to the Conservative party has called for David Cameron to face a leadership contest after the EU referendum – regardless of the result.

Alexander Temerko, a supporter of Boris Johnson, argued the London Mayor would be the right person to unify the party after the EU debate that has seen splits within the Conservative party widen.

Mr Temerko, a businessman who has given the Tories more than £300,000 in four years, is backing the campaign to stay in the European Union, putting him at odds with Mr Johnson.

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But he insists that the Uxbridge and South Ruislip MP is the right person to take on the mantle of Tory leader.

Writing in the Guardian, he said: “The Conservative party is fracturing following the resignation of Iain Duncan Smith and the infighting that’s likely to follow the referendum could be disastrous without any uniting influence.

“With a majority of just 12, seven to 20 rebel MPs are all it would take to cause a hung parliament and trigger another general election. My recommendation would be a leadership election immediately after the vote in June to unite MPs and members.”

He added: “We may be on opposite sides of the referendum debate, but more than ever I believe Johnson offers the best hope of restoring unity to the Conservative party and of re-establishing the UK as a strong voice for openness and international cooperation.

“He can count on my backing – and hopefully that of other business-minded Conservatives – as the next party leader and our next prime minister.”

Mr Cameron has insisted he would not step down as leader if the UK voted to leave the EU, arguing the debate should not be about his own future.

Tory peer Lord Tebbit argued earlier this month it would be “extraordinarily difficult” for the Prime Minister to remain in Number 10 should voters back Brexit.

Mr Temerko previously described George Osborne, seen as a rival to the Mr Johnson for the Tory leadership, as “very boring, very tedious, a very cold personality”.