FORMER PM David Cameron has accused Boris Johnson of behaving “appallingly” during the EU referendum campaign — but singled out Michael Gove for his most stinging criticism.
Mr Cameron hit out last night, ending a three-year silence over Brexit. He said the two Leavers, who campaigned against him in the 2016 vote, left “the truth at home” and blasted them for “trashing the government of which they were a part”.
And he lifted the lid on a major fall out when Mr Gove refused to budge as Education Secretary during the 2014 Cabinet reshuffle.
Mr Cameron revealed he texted Mr Gove to tell him: “You are either a team player or a w****r”.
He also blasted new PM Boris for botching his Brexit strategy in the past month.
Accusing Mr Johnson of “sharp practices”, Mr Cameron insisted: “Taking the whip from hard-working Conservative MPs and using prorogation of Parliament have rebounded.”
Mr Cameron, who has refused all interview requests since leaving No10 in July 2016, opened up last night in an interview with The Times ahead of the publication of his long-awaited memoirs next week. He:
- INSISTED he has no regrets about holding the Brexit referendum, despite the subsequent chaos and it ending his premiership;
- SUGGESTED a second referendum may be the only way to resolve the deadlock;
- CLAIMED he is haunted by the referendum verdict and thinks about it “every single day”; and
- REVEALS he is still accosted in the street by angry voters, conceding: “I’ve had some robust exchanges”.
While insisting he was right to hold the EU referendum, Mr Cameron issued a grovelling apology for the chaos it had plunged Britain into.
He said: “I am truly sorry to have seen the country I love so much suffer uncertainty and division in the years since then.”
Mr Cameron brands Cabinet Office chief Mr Gove “mendacious” in his memoirs, and accuses him of a personal betrayal that has ended their friendship.
The ex-PM accused the Scot of going back on his promise to keep a low profile during the referendum campaign, stressing: “That’s what he said.”
And while he has made up with Boris and insists he “wants him to succeed”, Mr Cameron said of his strained relationship with Mr Gove: “We’ve spoken. Not a huge amount.
“I’ve spoken to the Prime Minister a little bit, mainly through texts, but Michael was a very good friend. So that has been more difficult.”
The former Tory boss also stuck the knife into Boris Johnson’s most senior special adviser in No10 now, Dominic Cummings, who was Mr Gove’s aide when he was Education Secretary.
Dubbing him “a bad spad”, Mr Cameron described how Mr Cummings used to “drip poison into Michael’s ear”, even after the special adviser left his job.
Mr Cameron claimed deeply “torn” Boris finally decided to back Leave to further his ambition to become PM.
Saying Mr Johnson wanted to appeal to pro-leave Tory members, the ex-leader said: “I think he was genuinely torn, but I came to the conclusion in the end that it was too tempting not to run that campaign and go that way.”
Addressing his landmark decision on whether to hold the nationwide vote, Mr Cameron said he still believes it was right because a referendum was “inevitable”.
Saying he would make the same decision again, he explained: “When I think through all the things I thought and all the arguments I had with colleagues and with myself, I still come to the same conclusion.”
Off head on dope
DAVID Cameron has admitted being “off his head” on dope at Eton.
He also acknowledged that he later smoked it with his wife Samantha and friends.
But in an interview ahead of next week’s publication of his book For The Record, the ex-PM again refused to say whether he ever tried cocaine.
Speculation that he might have at Oxford University dogged his time as Tory leader.
The Eton incident was when he was 15.
But he revealed his Chancellor George Osborne, who always opposed the move, to this day still refers to it as “you and your f***ing referendum”.
He also confessed to a series of tactical mistakes over it.
Mr Cameron said his biggest blunder was over his renegotiation of Britain’s EU membership, saying he allowed “expectations about what could be achieved get far too high”.
He confessed to botching the Remain campaign itself, saying it “ended up with very strong technical and economic arguments, and the opposition had a very powerful emotional argument”.
But he also insisted it is wrong to say he just “disappeared and swanned off” after the result.
He said he did not want to leave No10 as swiftly as he did, but stay on for a three or four month-long transition.
'A PROMISE WAS KEPT'
Mr Cameron said: “Some people will never forgive me for holding a referendum. Others for holding it and losing it.
“There are, of course, all those people who wanted a referendum and wanted to leave who are glad that a promise was made and a promise was kept.”
He also revealed he phoned President Obama and Europe’s leaders the morning after the vote to apologise to them for mishandling it.
But he praised his successor Theresa May for her “phenomenal” work rate and her “ethos of public service”, and revealed he regularly sent her sympathy texts during her battles with MPs.
Before Mr Cameron launched his attack, Mr Johnson said he would always admire him.
Boris added: “Absolutely nothing that David Cameron says in his memoirs will diminish the affection and respect in which I hold him. He has a very distinguished record and a legacy to be proud of.”
Mr Cameron has been reportedly paid £800,000 for his memoirs, For The Record, which hits the shelves on Thursday. He has said profits will go to charities.
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