David Cameron’s main rival in the 2005 Conservative leadership contest has attacked fellow pro-Brexit MPs for calling for the Prime Minister to stand down after the EU referendum.
David Davis - MP for Howden and Haltemprice said the calls for a new Tory leader were an “unnecessary and unhelpful distraction”.
Three of the party’s MPs - Nadine Dorries, Andrew Bridgen and Sir Bill Cash - indicated they could be willing to back a no confidence vote in the PM after the June 23 poll. But Mr Davis warned Leave campaigners against engaging in “short-term skirmishes” and insisted Britain and the Tory Party will want a period of stability after the “bruising” referendum debate.
He said: “This referendum is about the country, not the Conservative Party. It is vital that the British people make their decision on the best facts available, and on what they think is in the long term interests of the country - not on short-term skirmishing about what may or may not happen after the referendum is over. In the light of that, these calls are an unnecessary and unhelpful distraction.”
Mr Davis added: “It is entirely likely that what the country, and indeed the Conservative Party, will want after an unavoidably bruising referendum debate, is a period of stability - not another battle.
“That may be particularly true if we are in the middle of negotiating our exit from the EU. In the meantime we should focus on what matters, the future of the nation.”
Downing Street has dismissed the calls for Mr Cameron to go as a “distraction”.
The Prime Minister will almost certainly face a leadership challenge in the event of a vote to Leave, but pro-Brexit campaigners angry at the tone of the campaign have suggested a close Remain vote may also start a contest. It would take 50 Tory MPs to trigger a no confidence vote by writing to the party’s backbench 1922 Committee.