David Cameron claims EU referendum was 'thought through' and necessary

Former prime minister David Cameron giving evidence to the National Security Strategy Committee

Former prime minister David Cameron - Credit: PA

Former prime minister David Cameron has claimed that the EU referendum was 'necessary' and defended his decision process that led to the vote being held.

Cameron defended the vote while speaking to parliament’s National Security Strategy Committee.

He explained: "The Brexit referendum was discussed and called in 2013, two years before the general election and three years before the referendum itself.

"It is not as if this is something that was thought up and popped into a manifesto.

"It was properly thought through and discussed, argued, debated, voted on in parliament, put into a manifesto.

"And a government was formed on the basis of that manifesto."

He continued: "I sometimes read about it as if people think it was a sort of an afterthought.

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"I think it was January 2013, the announcement of holding a referendum before the halfway point of the next parliament was made."

The ex-Conservative leader added: "I thought we needed to confront the issue.

"The single currency had changed the EU quite fundamentally, and that change was happening in front of our eyes, and we had to try to confront this issue to either find a better place for Britain within the EU… or take a different path. 

"And that required a referendum to do that."

He said that Boris Johnson was faced with Brexit and the “immense challenge of the pandemic”, a dual-pronged assault that had afforded the current administration less time to consider foreign policy via the National Security Council.

“All the former prime ministers – we speak to each other from time to time – we’d all say we had difficult decisions to make and difficult circumstances to face but nothing like this – this has been the greatest difficulty a government has had to face for 40 or 50 years,” Mr Cameron said.

“So to be fair to the government, they have had these twin challenges to deal with.”

During his 70-minute appearance in front of peers and MPs, Cameron also ruled out a comeback to political life and said he did not miss the pressure of Prime Minister’s Questions.

“I certainly don’t miss Wednesday at 12 o’clock – it is a bit different now from what I can see,” he said.

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