David Cameron: Don't make the EU referendum decision about my future

The Prime Minister appeared on a special edition of BBC Question Time

Will Worley
Sunday 19 June 2016 20:11 BST
David Cameron speaking on BBC Question Time
David Cameron speaking on BBC Question Time (BBC/Screengrab)

David Cameron has said that people shouldn’t “muddle up” the careers of politicians with the outcome of the EU referendum.

Speaking on BBC Question Time, Mr Cameron faced tough questions from the audience and was asked how he could possibly remain as Prime Minister if the British public voted to leave the EU.

Mr Cameron replied: “We had an election in 2015 and my party won the election, and I was leading the party, and so was re-elected as Prime Minister.

“I promised this renegotiation, I’ve carried it out. I’ve promised this referendum, we’re having it. I’ve said I will take and obey the instruction of the British people and on that basis I think it's right to stay.

“And I also think it's right, not to muddle up in this referendum the future of this politician or that politician. The question on the ballot paper is going to be very clear – do we stay in or do we leave?

“In my view, remaining is the right answer, for our economy, for our jobs, for our safety, for the strength of our country. And it is an irreversible decision. There’s no going back once you’ve walked through that door."

However, host David Dimbleby countered by pointing out that Mr Cameron has said the referendum “is more important than any general election”.

“If you lost a general election, you’d be out of Number 10 like that [gestures],” Mr Dimbleby said. “So if you lose this referendum, why won’t you be out of Number 10 like that?”

The Prime Minister answered: “Because I said very clearly, we’re going to hold a referendum, an In-Out referendum and I would accept the instructions of the British people. I think it’s important...”

However, Mr Dimbleby then interjected: “To do exactly the things you don’t want to do?

The Prime Minister was forced to pause his dialogue for a moment and appeared to bite his lip as Mr Dimbleby’s comment was met with applause from the audience.

He continued: “What I would say is, just because you hold a referendum, doesn’t mean you have a very strong view. I do have a strong view…I really do believe we will be stronger, safer and better off in. Our economy will be weaker if we leave.”

Mr Dimbleby asked: “But surely if you’re so confident about your view, it behoves you to say ‘and what’s more, If I loose this referendum I quit….because it’s not something I go along with’.

But Mr Cameron rejected quitting on principle, and stood his ground. “The reason I think that is the wrong thing to do is we held a general election a year ago,” he said. “My party won that election on the basis of holding this referendum.”

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