Five Cabinet ministers have declared they will campaign to leave the European Union – despite a stark warning from David Cameron that an "out" vote would be a "leap in the dark".
As expected, Michael Gove, Iain Duncan Smith, Chris Grayling, Theresa Villiers and John Whittingdale - plus Priti Patel, who is not a full Cabinet member but attends meetings - confirmed they would be in the "out" camp during an extraordinary Saturday morning meeting of the ministerial top team.
Emerging onto the steps of Downing Street following the meeting, Mr Cameron confirmed that while the Cabinet had backed his reform package, individual ministers would be given the freedom to campaign on either side in the forthcoming referendum, to be held on June 23.
"The choice is in your hands," the Prime Minister said, in a direct appeal to voters. "But my recommendation is clear.
"I believe that Britain will be safer, stronger and better off by remaining in a reformed European Union."
Following his return overnight from his marathon negotiating session, the Prime Minister said that leaving the EU would threaten Britain's "economic and national security".
"Those who want to leave Europe cannot tell you if British businesses would be able to access Europe's free trade single market, or if working people's jobs are safe, or how much prices would rise. All they're offering is a risk at a time of uncertainty – a leap in the dark," he said.