Cameron Faces Brexit Meeting With EU Leaders


As the PM attends what may be his last Brussels summit, the field of possible candidates to replace him is getting clearer.

04:58, UK, Tuesday 28 June 2016

Conservative leadership contenders

David Cameron will face EU leaders today for the first time since British voters decided to back Brexit in a historic referendum.

The Prime Minister is expected to urge heads of state and EU institutions to be “constructive” about negotiations over a new relationship between the UK and Europe at a summit in Brussels.

But he will also reject calls to immediately trigger the formal process for Britain to leave the EU – insisting it is a matter for his successor, who may not be in place before 2 September.

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Mr Cameron will join other EU leaders at a working dinner devoted to the consequences of the Brexit vote, which has stunned Europe’s political establishment and hit stock markets across the continent.

But he will be excluded from meetings on the second day of the summit, when the other 27 leaders will discuss taking a collective bargaining position with the UK.

A government source said holding the meeting without British representatives did not amount to a snub, adding: “We respect their right to have these discussions.”

The source said Mr Cameron would use the meeting “to encourage people to think about how the UK and EU make the best of the decision of the British people”.

Ahead of the summit, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has become the most senior member of the Government to suggest Britain could hold a second EU referendum.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Mr Hunt said the next PM should “negotiate a deal” with Brussels before putting it to the people through a general election or second referendum.

The bookies’ favourite to take over at No 10, Boris Johnson, has said he expects Britain secure freedom of movement for UK citizens in Europe, while introducing points-based controls on immigration to the UK.

But his plan for informal talks with the EU before activating Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty has been dismissed by France, Germany and Italy.

One of Mr Johnson’s potential rivals, George Osborne, has ruled himself out of the Tory leadership race.

Writing in the Times, the chancellor defended his decision to campaign for the Remain side but said: “As for my own future, I will not be a candidate in the Conservative leadership election to come.

“It isn’t in my nature to do things by half-measure, and I fought the referendum campaign with everything I’ve got. I believed in this cause and fought hard for it. So it is clear that while I completely accept the result, I am not the person to provide the unity my party needs at this time.”

Cabinet ministers Stephen Crabb and Sajid Javid are reportedly considering a joint campaign, while Education Secretary Nicky Morgan, energy minister Andrea Leadsom and Liam Fox are understood to be weighing up their options.