EU referendum: PM should stay if UK backs Brexit, says Grayling – BBC News

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David Cameron should stay on as PM to lead negotiations with the EU if the UK votes to leave, cabinet minister Chris Grayling has told the BBC.

Mr Grayling, who is campaigning for the UK to leave the EU, told the BBC: “I actively want David Cameron to stay.”

Another Conservative MP, David Davis, also said he could remain PM, but would need someone else to lead Brexit talks.

It comes after former chancellor Ken Clarke suggested the PM “wouldn’t last 30 seconds if he lost the referendum”.

Although Mr Cameron is campaigning for the UK to remain in the European Union, many of his Conservative MPs, and some members of his own cabinet, are campaigning to leave.

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A-Z guide to EU-speak

Who’s who: The Vote Leave team

Who’s who: The Remain campaign

Mr Clarke, a veteran pro-European Conservative, told the BBC last week it was “farcical” to suggest Mr Cameron would be able to remain prime minister if the UK votes to leave the EU in the 23 June referendum, despite campaigning to remain in.

He predicted the party would be “plunged into a Conservative leadership crisis”.


But Commons leader Mr Grayling told BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show: “I actively want David Cameron to stay, not only because he’s a very good prime minister, but because he actually has got the relationships we need around Europe to build the negotiating process.

“It would be disastrous, in my view, for the Leave cause if we vote to leave and then we get distracted by a Conservative leadership contest. He must stay, I want him to stay.”

He said the PM could be “part of a team” which would negotiate Britain’s exit from the EU but added “it needs people who want to leave in that team as well”.

Mr Davis, the former shadow home secretary who Mr Cameron beat for the Conservative leadership in 2005, told the programme he believed the PM could stay on but would have to appoint someone “who his own party had faith in, but most importantly who believed in the negotiation” to lead negotiations.

‘Terrible job’

And Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers, who is backing the Leave campaign, told Sky News: “It’s vitally important that he stays regardless of the vote in the referendum because he’s a great prime minister”.

Mr Cameron himself has said he would stay on as prime minister, even if he ended up on the losing side.

But Suzanne Evans, the former UKIP deputy chairwoman who is on the board of Vote Leave, said Mr Cameron had made a “terrible job” of his EU negotiations ahead of the referendum and she believed he should resign, if the UK votes to leave. She told BBC Radio 5 Live’s Pienaar’s Politics “I don’t particularly want him to be negotiating on our behalf.”

The official referendum campaigning period began on Friday and both sides have been stepping up their arguments about the potential impact of leaving the EU on the NHS and the economy.

Labour’s Yvette Cooper warned it could cost “100bn worth of trade” and could lose the manufacturing jobs “our industrial towns depend on”.

She said: “It’s working class people across Britain who will be hardest hit if we end up losing those jobs”.

But Mr Grayling said it was not realistic to suggest European leaders would want to jeopardise trade with the UK: “We keep talking about our access to their markets. There are millions of European jobs that depend on British consumers.”

Obama visit

On Sunday, England cricket legend Ian Botham added his voice to the Leave campaign. Describing the European Union as “racket” in a piece for the Sunday Times he said it was “insane” that Britain was restricted in its trade with “natural friends” outside the EU.

Meanwhile US President Barack Obama is expected to repeat his support for Britain’s EU membership when he visits the UK next week.

Liam Fox, the Conservative former defence secretary who is backing the Leave campaign, told the Sunday Politics: “Of course the American president is there to express what he believes is in America’s interest, not Britain’s interest… It’s absolutely unthinkable that the United States would allow a court to overrule the Supreme Court or someone else to determine their external borders in the way that the European Union does for the United Kingdom.”

The former US State Department spokesman James Rubin told the BBC’s Sunday Politics: “America is a very, very large country. It’s a superpower… the British are a different country, they are not a superpower any more. Just because we won’t do something, doesn’t mean that the British shouldn’t.”

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