David Cameron has said he is ‘truly mess’ for the uncertainty and division that followed the Brexit vote – but still believes it was right to hold a referendum.
The former prime minister said he thinks about the consequences of the vote to leave the EU “every single day” and worries “desperately” about what will happen next.
In his long-awaited book, For The Record, which is serialised in The Times, the ex-PM wrote that “there are those who will never forgive me for holding it, or for failing to deliver the outcome – Britain staying in a reformed EU – that I sought.
“I deeply regret the outcome and accept that my approach failed. The decisions I took contributed to that failure. I failed.”
He admitted that he has “many regrets” and that there are “many things” he would do differently about the vote, but insisted renegotiating Britain’s relationship with the EU and giving the country a say was the “right approach”.
“I did not fully anticipate the strength of feeling that would be unleashed both during the referendum and afterwards, and I am truly sorry to have seen the country I love so much suffer uncertainty and division in the years since then,” Cameron said.
“But on the central question of whether it was right to renegotiate Britain’s relationship with the EU and give people the chance to have their say on it, my view remains that this was the right approach to take.
“I believe that, particularly with the Eurozone crisis, the organisation was changing before our very eyes, and our already precarious place in it was becoming harder to sustain.
“Renegotiating our position was my attempt to address that, and putting the outcome to a public vote was not just fair and not just overdue, but necessary and, I believe, ultimately inevitable.”
In an interview with the paper, he also took aim at Priti Patel’s “attack that wealthy people didn’t understand the problems of immigration”.
“It felt very like she was put on point to do some attacking of the government and its record. I suppose some people would say all is fair in love and war and political campaigns.
“I thought there were places Conservatives wouldn’t go against each other. And they did.”
And he revealed that he once texted Gove, now chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster, to say: “You are either a team player or a wanker.”
Cameron also confessed that he got “off his head” on dope while at Eton, and said he smoked it later with his wife Samantha and her friends.
The former PM – who said he had been “hugely depressed” about leaving Number 10 – described Johnson as “easy to work with” but admitted that there had been “issues” between the pair.
“I want him to succeed. I worked with him well, as I say in the book. I also say that he was a capable mayor. He was easy to work with. I thought he was very talented. I wanted him in my government,” he explained.
“We’ve had issues. Even before Brexit, there were sometimes tensions and disagreements but, on the whole, we’ve got on well. And I want him to succeed.
“Look, he’s got a very clear strategy and plan. It’s, you know, not the approach that I would have taken, but I want him to succeed.”