“All political lives end in failure.” Were the first words of David Cameron when he realised he had lost the EU referendum in the early hours of 24 June, according to his biographer Anthony Seldon and not, “oh, sh*t, thankfully!
According to a report in The Independent, The night before Mr Cameron made his resignation speech, the mood of the Prime Minister and his team swung from jubilant to morose as results came in and it became clear the Leave campaign had won.
And despite pleas from some of his closest allies, including George Osborne, to stay on as Prime Minister in the case of a Brexit win, Mr Cameron decided before the first results were announced that he would leave if he lost the referendum.
In an extract from an updated version of Mr Seldon’s biography of Mr Cameron published in The Times, the Prime Minister is quoted telling cabinet office minister Matthew Hancock “It’s not good, is it?” at around 3:30am, when his defeat became apparent.
“I’m going to have to go,” said Mr Cameron. “I don’t want to lead a government where I don’t agree with its policy.”
Previously that evening, Oliver Letwin, the Prime Minister’s troubleshooter, had advised him to stay for the stability of the country, wrote Mr Seldon.
Mr Osbourne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, said Mr Cameron should only stay if he was prepared to fight, while communications director Craig Oliver said he should avoid appearing to “cling on” and leave, continuing his duties as Prime Minister during the leadership contest.