Conservative ministers should be allowed to campaign against the government on EU, says Boris

The Mayor of London says EU supporters should 'get over it' that people disagree with them

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Indy Politics

Conservative cabinet ministers should be allowed to campaign against the Government in favour of leaving the European Union, Boris Johnson has said.

The Mayor of London, the frontrunner to succeed David Cameron as Conservative leader when he steps down later in the parliament, said it would be “safer” to let people speak their mind.

“It seemed to work last time,” Mr Johnson told LBC Radio. “I don’t see why not myself. We seem to have been around the houses on this.”

“It would be safer and more harmonious just to say ‘Okay, you make your minds up’. On something like this do you really need to bind everybody in? There’ll be different views, get it over.”

Under Britain’s uncodified constitution ministers have traditionally been compelled to publicly support all the Government’s positions under the doctrine of ‘collective responsibility’.

Those who feel strongly about a particular issue they disagree with the government line on tend to resign from office before speaking their minds.

David Cameron has sent mixed messages about whether ministers would be allowed to campaign one way or the other in the referendum.

He said over the weekend that his whole cabinet would support the deal he produced on EU reform after negotiations with other member states.

Yesterday he however claimed that this comment had been “misinterpreted” and that whether Cabinet ministers could campaign against the Government would be a “hypothetical” question he could not answer.


In Mr Johnson’s interview today the Mayor of London added that he believed that most Conservative MPs would support David Cameron’s position if he got the deal he was seeking anyway.

“It’s almost certain that if he gets the deal that he wants the overwhelming majority of his colleagues on both the front and the back benches will support him,” the Mayor said.

Mr Cameron wants other EU nations to change rules around social security and freedom of movement. Downing Street says the proposals would require EU treaty change.

Such measures have been ruled out by other EU countries who would have to agree such changes, including France.