David Cameron ‘toast within days’ if Britain votes to leave European Union, says Tory MP

'My letter is already in. If the Remain camp wins by a large majority – I think it would have to be 60/40 – then David Cameron might just survive but if Remain win by a narrow majority or lose...he’s toast within days'

Ashley Cowburn
Sunday 29 May 2016 12:17
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Nadine Dorries on Peston on Sunday

David Cameron will be “toast within days” if Britain votes to leave the European Union, a Tory MP has said as she called for a vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister live on television.

The intervention by Nadine Dorries, Conservative MP for Mid Bedfordshire, comes amid an intense escalation of in-fighting in the party and bitter personal attacks over the referendum on June 23. Brexit heavyweights Michael Gove, Boris Johnson and Priti Patel all questioned the Prime Minister’s credibility.

Speaking on ITV’s Peston on Sunday, Ms Dorries revealed that she has already submitted her letter to Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee, calling for a vote of no confidence in Mr Cameron. She also confirmed she was supporting Mr Johnson, the former Mayor of London, to succeed Mr Cameron.

Party rules dictate that 50 backbenchers must follow suit to trigger a vote of no confidence.

She said: “My letter is already in. If the Remain camp wins by a large majority – I think it would have to be 60/40 – then David Cameron might just survive but if Remain win by a narrow majority or lose...he’s toast within days.

"He has lied profoundly, and I think that is actually really at the heart of why Conservative MPs have been so angered. To say that Turkey is not going to join the European Union as far as 30 years is a lie.

"There are many issues about which David Cameron has told outright lies, and because of that, trust has gone in both him and George Osborne... and it will be very hard for either of them to survive in the future," the Mid-Bedfordshire MP told ITV's Peston on Sunday.

Ms Dorries insisted a "considerable" number of Tory MPs shared her view.

Andrew Bridgen, another backbench Tory MP, had earlier warned that more than 50 MPs are ready to move against the Prime Minister. Breaking ranks to talk openly of a bid to topple the Prime Minister, Mr Bridgen warned anger in the Tory party was now so intense a challenge was "probably highly likely" as he warned the alternative was a "zombie parliament".

"I think it's going to be very, very difficult to pull all the sides together and have a working majority going forward," Mr Bridgen told BBC Radio Five's Pienaar's Politics.

Corbyn on EU referendum

Asked if a vote of no confidence against Mr Cameron would happen, the MP said: "It depends how the next few weeks go, but if true to form, I think there's at least 50 colleagues who are dissatisfied with the way that the Prime Minister has put himself front and centre of a fairly outrageous Remain campaign. I think that's probably highly likely."

The MP insisted the situation was now so dire an emergency general election would be needed before Christmas to restore order.

He added: "We have a very small majority on paper. I think we've seen over the last six months there's no effective majority for the Government to get necessary deficit reduction plans through and I don't see how that's going to change moving forward. We could end up in a situation where we have a four-year zombie parliament.

"The party is fairly fractured, straight down the middle, and I don't know which character could possibly pull it back together going forward for an effective government.

"I honestly think we probably need to go for a general election before Christmas and get a new mandate from the people."

Another rebel MP told the Times: "I don't want to stab the Prime Minister in the back - I want to stab him in the front so I can see the expression on his face. You'd have to twist the knife, though, because we want it back for [George] Osborne.

"All we have to do is catch the Prime Minister with a live boy or dead girl and we are away".

Meanwhile, Mr Gove and Mr Johnson launched an unprecedented attack on the Prime Minister's authority as they accused him of a having a “corrosive” impact on public trust in politicians because he had not lived up to promises to cut immigration.

In an article for The Telegraph, Ms Patel, the pro-Brexit Employment Minister, wrote: “It’s shameful that those leading the pro-EU campaign fail to care for those who do not have their advantages. Their narrow self-interest fails to pay due regard to the interests of the wider public”.

As the war of words heightened, Tory former PM Sir John Major accused the Leave side of telling deliberate untruths.

"They have - knowingly - told untruths about the cost of Europe. They have promised negotiating gains that cannot - and will not - be delivered.

"They have raised phantom fears that cannot be justified, puffing up their case with false statistics, unlikely scenarios and downright untruths. To mislead the British nation in this fashion - when its very future is at stake - is unforgivable," Mr Major wrote in the Mail on Sunday.

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