05/01/2016 11:56 GMT | Updated 05/01/2016 12:59 GMT

David Cameron Says He Won't Quit As PM Even If He Loses His EU Referendum

David Cameron has indicated he will not quit as prime minister should he lose the upcoming referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union.

The prime minister is widely expected to recommend continued membership of the EU. If public chooses to vote for Brexit he would come under intense pressure to resign.

However asked today whether he would leave No.10 if the referendum goes against him, Cameron told MPs: "Our aim is to set forward a choice for the British people that they want, they can either choose to stay in a reformed EU or to leave a EU.

He added: "And come what may, I will continue to lead the government in the way I have."

The prime minister was responding to a question from Labour MP Barry Gardiner, who asked: "The prime minister has said that the EU referendum would reflect the view of the British people. But if the choice of the British people does not reflect the choice of the prime minister will he resign?

Cameron also announced today that he will allow his ministers to campaign against his eventual position on EU membership without losing their jobs.

He told the Commons it would be "open to individual ministers to take a different personal position while remaining part of the government" and would not "strong arm" them.

Former Conservative deputy prime minister Lord Heseltine recently warned the prime minister would be “a laughing stock across the world" if he allowed his ministers to campaign on the opposite side of the referendum to him.

However former Tory chief whip Andrew Mitchell told the BBC it was the "obvious decision" for the prime minister to take.

Labour has described Cameron's decision to ditch collective responsibility as "weak, weak, weak". Former shadow cabinet minister Emma Reynolds asked him: "Why is it not possible for him to persuade his own ministers of his position on an issue that is so vital to our national interest?"

Lib Dem leader Tim Farron said Cameron was using Jeremy Corbyn's protracted reshuffle to bury his announcement. Writing for The Huffington Post, Farron said: "The prime minister has used Labour's implosion, or day two of their reshuffle if you are being kind, to sneak out an announcement that his Ministers will be free to campaign on either side of the referendum on Britain's continued membership of the EU.

"It is yet another day that Britain needed David Cameron to show the courage of his convictions. It is sadly yet another day he has flunked that test and capitulated to calls on his right flank."

And he said Cameron was copying "Corbyn's weak style of leadership" by granting a free vote. "Now is not the time to back down. The government should take a collective position on this issue, and if ministers disagree with the prime minister they should resign," he said.