Tributes to David Cameron have begun pouring in after his resignation following the referendum result – even from those who would be ranked among his staunchest political enemies.
Speaking to the BBC in the immediate aftermath of the Prime Minister’s shock announcement, Lord Peter Mandelson said Mr Cameron had worked to make the Conservatives a “less nasty, more socially tolerant and liberal party”.
“Mr Cameron made his announcement with his usual grace, elegance and composure,” he said. “He looks and sounds like a Prime Minister but I’m afraid that’s no longer enough.”
“I’m afraid those who chose this referendum as their instrument of revenge against him have won the day. The right wing has gained the upper hand and that is the direction the conservative party is now going to go,” he said.
Mr Cameron’s Cabinet colleagues were, as might be expected, more effusive in their praise for the outgoing Prime Minister.
Speaking on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers said: "It's truly shocking news, I think it's deeply saddening.
"As I was just saying only a few minutes ago, I would very much have preferred David Cameron to be steering this country through the next few years.
"I entirely respect his decision but I think it is a sad day for the country that he has decided to stand down."
Her sentiments were echoed by Defence Secretary Michael Fallon, who said the PM believed he was doing the "honourable thing" after the referendum vote.
He told the Today programme: "Well of course it is extremely sad news. I would have preferred him to have stayed on and to have helped make this decision work, but it's his decision.
"I think he feels it is the honourable thing to do, the decent thing to do - he lost the argument in the referendum campaign."
Asked who he thought might replace the PM and lead the renegotiations, he said: "That is matter now for the party to elect a new prime minister to be in place for the autumn and to take that forward.
"I think it is a bit too early to start speculating about that, and there is plenty to do now to help make this decision work, to stabilise our economy, to reassure our allies and to continue the programme we were all elected on last year."
And the news was met with a huge response on social media, with many echoing a similar sentiment – they may not have liked Mr Cameron while he was in power, but they preferred him to the daunting prospect of what might follow.
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