23/06/2016 22:46 BST | Updated 23/06/2016 23:42 BST

David Cameron Backed By 84 Brexit Tory MPs As Remain Set For Narrow EU Referendum Victory

'The most important thing for the Conservative Party is to reunite.'

Alastair Grant/AP
David Cameron has staked his political future on winning this referendum

David Cameron has won the backing of prominent Brexit-backing Tory MPs, including Boris Johnson, after the EU Referendum stoked a civil war that saw ministers and senior figures fight bitterly for months.

With the country now expected to vote 52%-48% for remaining in the EU, 84 of the Conservative MPs who backed Leave, including leadership rival Johnson, signed the letter calling for him to stay on.

The vote of confidence is a massive boost for Cameron, whose future as prime minister and Conservative Party leader looked fragile as the party's MPs fought publicly over whether Britain should vote to leave the EU.

Brexiteers Justice Secretary Michael Gove, Commons Leader Chris Grayling, Culture Secretary John Whittingdale and Employment Minister Priti Patel also signed the letter.

Boris Johnson (pictured with his wife Marina) was seen as a likely challenger to Cameron in any leadership post-referendum coup

Grayling told The Sun this evening: "The most important thing for the Conservative Party is [to] reunite, follow wishes of electorate, and get behind David Cameron as we do so, whatever the result."

The olive branch is a huge u-turn on the rhetoric during the campaign, in which a leadership coup against Cameron was predicted regardless of the result.

The Prime Minister has staked his political future on winning this referendum for Remain.

Just three weeks ago, one unnamed Tory MP even told The Sunday Times: "I don't want to stab the Prime Minister in the back, I want to stab him in the front so I can see the expression on his face... All we have to do is catch the Prime Minister with a live boy or a dead girl and we are away."

Iain Duncan Smith, who resigned as Work and Pensions Secretary during the campaign in the most strident, direct attack on Cameron, told the BBC: "The Conservative Party has an instinct, ultimately, I sense, that once the argument is over they’ll want to be back, we’re in government, to get on with government whatever happens."

When polls closed, there was also a flurry of Tory MPs tweeting remarkably similar calls for party unity. Labour MP John Woodcock called it "a bit embarrassing".



Cameron is expected to carry out a post-referendum reshuffle in which Brexiteers could be for the chop.

Former party leadership contender David Davis said he refused to sign the letter, calling it "grovelling".

He told LBC: "I don't sign grovelling letters and I don't sign threatening letters. That falls into grovelling.

"I'm of the view that Cameron should stay on in either circumstance. But why should I put that in a letter. I've said it in public, I'm not going to put it in a letter in somebody else's words."

The Tory Brexiteers who did not sign the letter:

Adam Afriyie,

Caroline Ansell

Steven Baker

Steve Barclay

John Baron

Andrew Bingham

Peter Bone

Victoria Borwick

Graham Brady

Andrew Bridgen

Fiona Bruce

Bill Cash

Rehman Chishti

Christopher Cope

Geoffrey Cox

David Davies

Glyn Davies

David Davis

Nadine Dorries

Richard Drax

Iain Duncan Smith

Nusrat Ghani

Cheryl Gillan

James Gray

Philip Hollobone

Adam Holloway

Stewart Jackson

Bernard Jenkin

David Jones

Daniel Kawczynski

Kwasi Kwarteng

Edward Leigh

Charlotte Leslie

Julian Lewis

Peter Lilley

Jonthan Lord

Tim Loughton

Anne Main

Karl McCartney

Stehen McPartland

Stephen Metcalfe

Anne Marie Morris

Matthew Offord

Christopher Pincher

Tom Pursglove

John Redwood

Laurence Robertson

Andrew Rossindell

Bob Stewart

Justin Tomlinson

Craig Tracey

Andrew Turner

David Warburton

Heather Wheeler

Bill Wiggin