Friday 20 September 2019

'They've left the truth at home' over Brexit - Cameron lashes out at Johnson and Gove in his memoir

Anger: Former British prime minister David Cameron. Photo: Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images
Anger: Former British prime minister David Cameron. Photo: Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images

Gordon Rayner

David Cameron has accused Boris Johnson and Michael Gove of having "left the truth at home" over Brexit as he said they behaved "appallingly" during the EU referendum campaign.

In an excoriating attack, Mr Cameron lambasted his former friends and colleagues over the claims depicted on their campaign bus about £350m (€395m) a week payments going to Brussels.

Casting doubt on Mr Johnson's promise of getting Britain out of the EU on October 31 with or without a deal, Mr Cameron also suggested a second referendum might now be necessary, saying: "I don't think you can rule it out because we're stuck."

In his long-awaited memoir, which is published next week, and in an interview with 'The Times', Mr Cameron says his failure to keep Britain in the EU, which led to his resignation, left him "hugely depressed" and he also opens up about his drug-taking past and the highs and lows of his coalition with the Liberal Democrats.

He accuses Mr Johnson of "sharp practices" in proroguing Parliament and savages his decision to expel rebel Tories. He calls Mr Gove "mendacious".

The former Tory leader also attacks Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, saying of her blue-on-blue attacks in the referendum campaign: "I thought there were places Conservatives wouldn't go against each other. And they did."

Mr Cameron's Downing Street diary, 'For The Record', will be published next week, just days ahead of what is likely to be the most divisive Conservative Party conference in decades.

Mr Johnson insisted yesterday that "absolutely nothing" his No 10 predecessor says "will diminish the affection and respect in which I hold him".

In an effort to calm troubled waters, he added: "I think he has a very distinguished record and a legacy to be proud of."

Mr Cameron, however, was in no mood for compromise in an interview conducted to publicise the book, saying Mr Johnson lied during the referendum campaign and refusing to say he trusts him as premier.

He says the Vote Leave campaign misled voters over the claim that the UK sent £350m per week to the EU, adding: "I think they left the truth at home."

He also accuses Mr Johnson and Mr Gove of behaving "appallingly" during the referendum campaign, and claims Mr Johnson only campaigned for Leave for his own career prospects.

"Boris had never argued for leaving the EU, right?" he says.

"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 the EU] and being swamped and what have you.

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

He discloses that he tried to persuade Mr Johnson to back the Remain campaign by offering him a "top five" Cabinet job, hinting it was as defence secretary.

On the day Mr Cameron resigned, Mr Johnson sent him a text message apologising for not being "in touch". The former PM says he could not think what to say in reply.

Of Mr Johnson's decision to prorogue Parliament and expel rebel MPs, Mr Cameron says: "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's book will be published by HarperCollins on Thursday and he will also feature in a two-part BBC documentary that begins on the same day. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph.co.uk

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