|Gisela Stuart, Boris Johnson, Micheal Gove at Vote Leave press conference|
Vote Leave Press Conference 11.00am
They came to praise Caesar, not to bury him, but bury him they had.
Boris Johnson and Micheal Gove tried to appear as sombre and statesmanlike as possible at The Vote Leave press conference. On stage together the allies who could now be rivals for the Tory leadership heaped praise on David Cameron. But it had the atmosphere of a wake, not a garlanded victory.
A shocked looking Johnson described the Prime Minister “a brave and principled man”, words that will taste of ashes in his mouth and “one of the great politicians of our age”
Age is an issue for Johnson. He is now terrified the young generation who overwhelmingly voted for Remain, will blame him for robbing them of their European future.
He said: “We cannot turn our backs on Europe. We are part of Europe.”
“Our children and grandchildren will continue to have a wonderful future as Europeans travelling to the continent, understanding the languages and cultures, that make up of common European civilisation.”
But there is simply no need in the 21st century to be part of a federal system of government based in Brussels that is imitated nowhere else on earth. It was a noble idea for its time but it is no longer right for this country.”
He insisted that Brexit decision would not mean the UK is “any less united”, but that sounded like one of his famous jokes falling flat.
Michael Gove looked down the camera as he sent tribute to his friend Cameron who had “led this country with courage, dignity and grace”.
Both tried to calm the volatile markets and heal the continental fissures the referendum has opened up.
“There is now no need for haste,” the former London mayor told the press conference.
He added: “Nothing will change over the short term except work will have to begin on how to give effect to the will of the people.”
Gove added that Britain would carry on in its best traditions. “We have always been an open, inclusive, tolerant, creative and generous nation,” he said.
The former journalist (they are both former journalists) who turned a newspaper column idea into a historic upheaval sounded as if he wanted to believe it. Half the country could not agree.