Former prime minister David Cameron rang European leaders and then US president Barack Obama to apologise for his ultimately failed strategy to keep Britain in the European Union.
The Conservative wrote that he was “sad to leave office but even more sad that Britain would be leaving the EU” in his memoir which is being serialised in the Times ahead of its publication on Thursday.
Another revelation in the book, titled For The Record, was that current PM Boris Johnson asked whether Michael Gove was “a bit cracked” after the Brexiteer betrayed him during the 2016 Tory leadership race.
Writing about the morning after the Brexit referendum, in which 52% of people voted to leave the 28 member bloc, Cameron said he was aware of the “enormity of what happened” and that it would “stay with me for the rest of my life”.
He added: “There were phone calls with the other first and deputy first ministers. I spoke to European leaders and to Obama. To each I said the same thing: ‘I had a strategy to keep Britain in the EU. I executed the strategy. It didn’t work. I’m sorry.’”
“As it awaited its next occupants, Downing Street became an eerie place. Power was fading like a dimming lightbulb.
“Pre-arranged commitments in my diary kept me busy, but I was beginning to feel like the political equivalent of The Walking Dead.”
The Conservative former prime minister has also recalled the fraught battle to replace him in Number 10 in his memoir.
Gove initially supported Johnson’s campaign but then dramatically withdrew his backing and announced he would stand himself – leading the now-PM to quit the contest.
As Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Gove is now responsible for no-deal Brexit preparations in Johnson’s government, and the revelation could put pressure on his relationship with the PM.
The 2016 leadership battle was eventually won by Theresa May, and Cameron revealed in the book how he secretly encouraged Gavin Williamson to help her campaign, according to the Times.
In extracts from the book published over the weekend, Cameron took aim at Gove, describing him as a “foam-flecked Faragist”.
He said Johnson wanted to become the “darling” of the Tory party and “didn’t want to risk allowing someone else with a high profile – Michael Gove in particular – to win that crown”.
Cameron said Johnson “didn’t believe” in Brexit and only backed the Leave campaign to further his career.
“The conclusion I am left with is that he risked an outcome he didn’t believe in because it would help his political career,” he wrote.
We need your help ...
The coronavirus pandemic is changing our world, fast. And we will do all we can to keep bringing you news and analysis throughout. But we are worried about maintaining enough income to pay our staff and minimal overheads.
Now, more than ever, we need a vibrant, independent media that holds the government to account and calls it out when it puts vested economic interests above human lives. We need a media that shows solidarity with the people most affected by the crisis – and one that can help to build a world based on collaboration and compassion.
We have been fighting against an establishment that is trying to shut us down. And like most independent media, we don’t have the deep pockets of investors to call on to bail us out.
Can you help by chipping in a few pounds each month?