Aides of UK Prime Minister Theresa May today rallied around her to deny claims she watered down tough immigration rules being imposed on the European Union before the Brexit referendum that resulted in Britain leaving the EU.
May was allegedly branded “lily-livered” by then prime minister David Cameron’s team in a book by Sunday Times political editor Tim Shipman, for being soft on immigration from within the EU – one of the key issues that led to Britain voting for an exit from the 28-nation bloc.
The book entitled ‘All Out War: The Full Story of How Brexit Sank Britain’s Political Class’ claims May, then home secretary, told Cameron to drop plans for an “emergency brake” on EU migrants because it would be opposed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
However, sources close to her took the unusual step of countering that by revealing that in November 2014 and May last year, May wrote to Cameron urging him to put stronger restrictions on free movement at the heart of any EU deal.
They are keen that the premier is not seen as soft on immigration as she finalises the country’s exit from the EU.
The book said a “visibly deflated” Cameron was said to have turned to one official and said, “I can’t do it without their support. If it wasn’t for my lily-livered cabinet colleagues…”
Shipman said that his account was based on the testimony of aides to Cameron.
He said, “Everything Downing Street are putting out is wholly consistent with what I’ve written and they are not in any way disputing the details of what happened in that meeting.”
A second book by former Downing Street director of communications Craig Oliver, allegedly claims Cameron felt “badly let down” by May during the EU referendum campaign.
Both books will hit the stores next week but extracts are being used by the UK media to create headlines in the lead up to the release.