British PM, London mayor bury hatchet for pro-EU rally

30th May 2016, Comments 0 comments

Prime Minister David Cameron put aside recent animosity with London Mayor Sadiq Khan to make a joint call Monday for Britain to stay in the European Union, as personal attacks from within his own party intensified.

Cameron told a campaign event in London that he and the new Labour mayor backed Britain's EU membership because "we love our country and we want our country to be the best it possibly can," just weeks after accusing Khan of repeatedly appearing with Muslim extremists.

"I'm proud to be here with the Labour mayor of London," said Cameron.

"He is the son of a bus driver and it makes an important point about our country: in one generation someone who is a proud Muslim, a proud Brit and a proud Londoner can become mayor of the greatest city on earth."

Last month, Labour MPs had branded Cameron racist after he told parliament he was "concerned" about Labour's mayoral candidate who had "appeared again and again and again" on stage with "extremists".

Khan admitted there were there "many things upon which the prime minister and I will disagree," but said "when it's in London's interest for the mayor of London and the government to work closely together, we will work closely together".

While Cameron was building bridges with former adversaries, dissent within his own ranks escalated with some Tory MPs demanding he quit even if the country voted to remain in the bloc at the June 23 referendum.

- 'Cameron is toast' -

Andrew Bridgen and Nadine Dorries -- both pro-"Brexit" and longstanding opponents of the prime minister -- said Sunday they could stage a leadership coup in the event of a tight result.

"If 'remain' win by a narrow majority, or if 'leave' win, he's toast within days," Dorries told ITV, while Bridgen said there were 50 Tory MPs who could force a no-confidence vote on Cameron -- a claim doubted by senior Tories on both sides of the referendum debate.

Cameron also came under fire from senior pro-Brexit Tories Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, who said his pledge to reduce immigration had "corroded public trust" as latest figures showed a marked increase.

Speaking on Monday, the prime minister praised the "incredibly broad range" of support with the "remain" camp.

"It's a campaign that include trade unions and business, the Labour party, the Green party, the Liberal Democrat party and a Conservative government," he said, highlighting his own party's lack of unity.

Cameron admitted he himself was "a eurosceptic", but said his campaign's criticisms of the EU were a strength because "we are levelling with people, which is something the other side refuses to do".

He also rejected claims that the unusual alliances were evidence of an "establishment conspiracy".

"It would be a pretty exquisite conspiracy that could bring together the London mayor son of a bus driver and the Tory son of a stockbroker prime minister," he said.


© 2016 AFP

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