Leading Leave campaigners have claimed it would be “disastrous” if a vote to quit the EU sparked a Tory leadership contest.
Brexit-supporting Cabinet ministers insisted David Cameron must remain in No 10 to lead the negotiations pulling Britain out of the 28-member bloc.
It follows a weekend of speculation about the premier’s future sparked by former chancellor Ken Clarke’s claim that Mr Cameron “wouldn’t last 30 seconds” if he loses the June 23 referendum.
Commons Leader Chris Grayling said: “I actively want David Cameron to stay, not only because he is a very good prime minister but because he has got the relationships we need around Europe to build a negotiating process,” he told BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show.
“It would be disastrous in my view for the Leave cause if we vote to leave and then we get distracted by a leadership contest.”
Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers said Mr Cameron is the “right man to take us out of the European Union” and negotiate a new deal.
And senior Tory, Howden and Haltemprice MP David Davis told Marr that the Prime Minister would have to appoint someone that the party and the public had faith in to lead the negotiations. “If he did that, I don’t see any reason why he shouldn’t go on,” he added.
Brexit campaigners continued to dismiss interventions from international leaders about Britain’s future in the EU. Ahead of the upcoming visit by Barack Obama, Mr Grayling suggested the US president “perhaps doesn’t understand” the shift in power that has taken place between the UK and Brussels.