Osborne’s dire warnings of economic doom and an emergency Budget hurt Remain campaign because voters didn’t believe him, say Cameron aides

George Osborne

George Osborne

David Cameron’s aides believed George Osborne’s dire economic warnings were damaging the Remain campaign and he had to be ‘restrained several times’, it was claimed today.

A No 10 source has said that the Chancellor’s reputation was ‘often a hindrance’ because his doom-laden predictions were not often believed by the public.

The source also revealed the Prime Minister felt betrayed by Michael Gove, who apparently told Mr Cameron: ‘I won’t be actively involved’ before the campaign before becoming a Brexit figurehead.

The Times has published excerpts from the updated edition of Cameron at 10 by Anthony Seldon and Peter Snowdon.
On George Osborne a Cameron aide told them: ‘He had to be restrained several times. This wasn’t a general election and it required diplomacy and subtlety’.

The book also reveals that the Prime Minister had a 40-minute meeting with Boris Johnson to convince him to back Remain, even offering him any cabinet post he wanted.

But the source said: ‘It wasn’t difficult to work it out. Boris made an amoral calculation about what was in it for him.
‘If he led the Out campaign, and it won, he would be in pole position; if he led it and the vote was lost, he would still be a hero.’

Mr Cameron was left distraught by Mr Gove’s decision to back Remain, according to the book, because his old friend had apparently promised not to take a frontline role in the campaign.
The book also describes the relationship between the PM and Jeremy Corbyn as ‘bloody awful’, saying: ‘Days were left open for Labour to step up – and it didn’t happen. Either Corbyn’s office were incompetent or malign, but they were not helpful.’

Today, the two big beasts in the battle to win the Tory crown – Theresa May and Boris Johnson – will officially launch their campaigns.

Mrs May will pledge there can be no turning back on Brexit and the wishes of the British public must be implemented in full, including curbs on migrants. She will appoint a Eurosceptic MP as a Cabinet Minister for Brexit.
Mrs May and Mr Johnson – who will run on the slogan Back Boris 2016 – are preparing for a nine-week duel to the bitter end. Yesterday, the Home Secretary refused to cut any deal with heir fierce rival.
George Osborne has been forced to bow out – a year after he was favourite to succeed Mr Cameron – because the referendum campaign caused him so much damage.

Former Bank of England governor Mervyn King savaged Project Fear’s scaremongering, of which Mr Osborne is said to have been the main architect.
It came as George Osborne announced he would not bring forward an emergency Budget in response to last Thursday’s historic vote.
Former Bank chief Lord King said that, over the campaign, the Remain camp had treated those considering a Leave vote like ‘idiots’.
Lord King – governor of the Bank for a decade – said voters had not been impressed by scaremongering.
‘This was the most dispiriting campaign I can recall in my lifetime,’ he told the BBC. ‘I think the Government has to take responsibility for setting the tone for that.
‘I do think that they said things which were not easy to sustain or support. It’s true there was a great deal of uncertainty about the outcome in economic terms. That would have been enough perhaps to have made their case.
‘But it went way beyond that in making claims about the precise numbers that could be used to say how much our living standards might fall.
‘We had all kinds of scare stories. I was travelling round the UK a lot at that time and I was struck by how many people said to me they didn’t like the scaremongering tactics, they didn’t like to be told that if they were to vote to leave they would be idiots. If you say to someone, ‘You are an idiot if you don’t agree with me,’ you are not likely to bring them in your direction.’
He said it was time for the Treasury to ‘row back’ on the doom-laden forecasts, adding: ‘We have already seen in the space of this morning that there will not be an emergency Budget.
‘I think that was perhaps the nadir of the exaggeration.’