Thursday

1st Jun 2023

Cameron's advice to May: Stay close to the EU

  • Cameron: "After all, as I once said, I was the future once" (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

On his last day in the House of Commons as British prime minister, David Cameron, advised his successor Theresa May to stay close to the EU.

"My advice to my successor, who is a brilliant negotiator, is that we should try to be as close to the European Union as we can be for the benefits of trade, cooperation and of security," he said during Prime Minister's Questions.

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Referring to Scottish fears of being pushed out of the EU and renewed calls for independence, he added that doing so "would be good for the United Kingdom and good for Scotland."

"The channel [between Great-Britain and continental Europe] will not get any wider once we leave the European Union and that is the relationship we should seek," he said.

Cameron also tried to reassure EU citizens living in the UK that they would keep their rights after the UK leaves the Union.

"We are working hard to do what we want, which is to give a guarantee to EU citizens that they will have their rights respected, all those who have come to this country,” he said.

He added that the only circumstance in which he could envisage a British government trying to undo that guarantee "would be if British citizens in other European countries didn’t have their rights respected".

"I think it is important to have reciprocity,” he said.

Last week, May said on the BBC that "nobody necessarily stays anywhere forever,” fuelling concerns that she would try to use EU citizens' rights in the EU as a bargaining chip in talks with the EU.

Black Knight

Cameron bade farewall to parliament as prime minister before becoming a backbencher.

He took the opportunity to mock opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn, saying he reminded him of a movie character.

“He has reminded me of the Black Knight in Monty Python’s Holy Grail," he said.

“He has been kicked so many times but he says ‘keep going it’s only a flesh wound’. And I admire that!” he said.

Cameron later gave the traditional peroration before leaving the floor.

He said MPs could be "pretty tough and test and challenge our leaders – perhaps more than some other countries – but that is something we should be proud of and we should keep at it".

Before a standing ovation from his party fellows and some opposition MPs, he said that "nothing is really impossible if you put your mind to it".

And he concluded: "After all, as I once said, I was the future once".

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