David Cameron no longer acknowledges some of his most senior ministers when he passes them in the corridor and won’t make eye contact with pro-Brexit Tories.
That’s how a senior Government source has described the extraordinary civil war raging within the Conservative Party over the EU referendum in June.
Tensions that bubbled to the surface following George Osborne’s Budget and the subsequent resignation of Iain Duncan Smith now look set to leave a lasting imprint on Mr Cameron’s legacy.
“It has got pretty bad,” the source told the Daily Telegraph. “David doesn't even make eye contact when he passes the eurosceptics in the corridor.
“I don't think he realises the damage he's doing to the party though. Whatever happens in the referendum, he is creating a deep split that isn't going to go away. His behaviour is totally irresponsible and a lot of people won't forgive him.”
While Downing Street has denied the claims of the “anonymous source”, at the weekend the public infighting within the Cabinet reached new heights as Vote Leave, a pro-Brexit group chaired by Michael Gove, issued a damning statement against Jeremy Hunt.
Matthew Elliott, chief executive of Vote Leave, issued a statement which read: “Does this government's scaremongering know no bounds? Under Jeremy Hunt's stewardship, the NHS has plummeted into a financial crisis.
“If we vote to leave we can stop wasting money on EU bureaucrats and instead spend our money on our priorities like the NHS.”
What has the EU ever done for us?
What has the EU ever done for us?
1/7 1. It gives you freedom to live, work and retire anywhere in Europe
As a member of the EU, UK citizens benefit from freedom of movement across the continent. Considered one of the so-called four pillars of the European Union, this freedom allows all EU citizens to live, work and travel in other member states.
2/7 2. It sustains millions of jobs
A report by the Centre for Economics and Business Research, released in October 2015, suggested 3.1 million British jobs were linked to the UK’s exports to the EU.
3/7 3. Your holiday is much easier - and safer
Freedom to travel is one of the most exercised benefits of EU membership, with Britons having made 31 million visits to the EU in 2014 alone. But a lot of the benefits of being an EU citizen are either taken for granted or go unnoticed.
4/7 4. It means you're less likely to get ripped off
Consumer protection is a key benefit of the EU’s single market, and ensures members of the British public receive equal consumer rights when shopping anywhere in Europe.
5/7 5. It offers greater protection from terrorists, paedophiles, people traffickers and cyber-crime
Another example of a lesser-known advantage of EU membership is the benefit of cross-country coordination and cooperation in the fight against crime.
6/7 6. Our businesses depend on it
According to 71% of all members of the Confederation of British Influence (CBI), and 67 per cent of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the EU has had an overall positive impact on their business.
7/7 7. We have greater influence
Robin Niblett, Director of think-tank Chatham House, stated in a report published last year: “For a mid-sized country like the UK, which will never again be economically dominant either globally or regionally, and whose diplomatic and military resources are declining in relative terms, being a major player in a strong regional institution can offer a critical lever for international influence.
The idea of a campaign group chaired by Mr Gove, the Justice Secretary and a close friend of Mr Cameron, launching such an open attack on the Tory party’s own record on the NHS would have been unthinkable just weeks ago.
Meanwhile, the other major Brexit campaign group, Leave.EU, was embroiled in a controversy of its own on Sunday when it emerged that it employs at least four call centre staff from EU countries.
According to the Guardian, the Ukip-backed group seemed happy to take advantage of the migrant workforce despite stating on its website under "facts" on migration that low-skilled European workers "can often deprive British citizens of jobs in the low-skilled end of the labour market".
Arron Banks, the campaign and Ukip’s major donor, insisted his “beef” was “not with immigration but with controlling immigration”.Reuse content