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EU referendum: Tories sign letter urging David Cameron to stay as PM

By Joe Churcher

Prominent pro-Brexit Tories including Theresa Villiers, Boris Johnson and Michael Gove have signed a letter backing David Cameron to remain as Prime Minister after the referendum.

The message, supported by 84 MPs, said: "We believe whatever the British people decide, you have both a mandate and a duty to continue leading the nation implementing our policies."

The effort to show a united front comes at the end of a sometimes brutal campaign that saw deep Tory divisions over Europe lead to highly-personalised "blue-on-blue" attacks.

Observers believe Mr Cameron would find his position seriously under threat if he proved unable to persuade the public that Britain should stay in the bloc.

Former Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson declined to sign the letter but said he believed Mr Cameron should stay. "If there is a Leave vote he needs to rapidly organise and deliver the will of the people," he added.

Pro-Brexit former Cabinet minister Iain Duncan Smith was not asked to sign the letter but also backed Mr Cameron.

Mr Duncan Smith told BBC News: "I think that he has a duty to stay. I'm not in the Government any longer, so I assume that's why I wasn't asked."

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