Northern Ireland news

Pro-Brexit Tories back David Cameron to continue as prime minister

Boris Johnson and his wife Marina after casting their votes in north London on Thursday. Picture by: Isabel Infantes/PA
Joe Churcher, Press Association

PROMINENT pro-Brexit Tories including Boris Johnson and Secretary of State Theresa Villiers have signed a letter backing David Cameron to continue as prime minister after the referendum.

The letter delivered to Downing Street was signed by 84 MPs, two thirds of whom openly backed the Leave campaign.

"We believe whatever the British people decide you have both a mandate and a duty to continue leading the nation implementing our policies," it read.

The effort to show a united front comes at the end of a sometimes brutal campaign that saw deep Tory divisions over Europe lead to highly-personalised 'blue-on-blue' attacks.

Signatories included all of the British cabinet-level ministers who broke ranks to join Vote Leave – Michael Gove, Chris Grayling, John Whittingdale, Theresa Villiers and Priti Patel.

MP Robert Syms said "many" Eurosceptic MPs had expressed their support for Mr Cameron but not all had been able to physically put their name to the letter of support.

Late on Thursday night he wrote on Twitter: "This evening I delivered to Gavin Williamson MP, PPS [Parliamentary Private Secretary] to the prime minister, a letter from Vote Leave supporters who are also Tory MPs.

"The letter thanked Prime Minister David Cameron for giving the British people a choice of their destiny.

"The letter was signed by 84 MPs, two thirds of those who publicly supported the Vote Leave campaign.

"Given the available time not possible to approach all Vote Leave colleagues to ask them to sign but many have expressed support for the PM."

During the referendum campaign Ms Villiers and other Leave supporters dismissed warnings about the impact Brexit would have on the Irish border.

Ms Villiers argued that movement across the border would be unaffected by the UK's withdrawal from the EU.

However, Conservative campaigners supporting Remain and leading figures in the Republic, including Taoiseach Enda Kenny, insisted north-south relations would suffer if Britain severed ties with Brussels.

Britain's home secretary Theresa May said it was "inconceivable" that a Brexit would not hit trade and disrupt the lives of people close to the Irish border.

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