UK Politics

Cameron to remain PM until end of decade - Osborne

David Cameron Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mr Cameron has said he will not serve a third term as PM

David Cameron will continue as PM until the "end of this decade", Chancellor George Osborne has predicted.

Mr Cameron has said that he will not seek a third term but some have suggested he may have to quit sooner, if the UK votes to leave the EU.

While he is campaigning to stay in, many Tories are on the opposite side.

Mr Osborne, a likely future leadership contender, told ITV he did not envisage a contest until close to 2020 "when David Cameron says he wants to go".

Interviewed on ITV's Peston on Sunday, he denied being preoccupied by thoughts of becoming the next Tory leader.

"There will be a leadership election at the end of this decade, we've got a lot of work to do before then," he said.

"I fought very hard to get my friend elected as leader of the Conservative Party, then elected as the prime minister of this country and I'm very happy being part of that team that is bringing about this change to this country."

'Shredded Wheat'

He added: "It will be the end of this decade in my view, when David Cameron says he wants to go."

Mr Cameron, who became prime minister at the head of a coalition government in 2010, will by then have served nearly two full terms in office.

He ruled out a third term before the 2015 general election, telling the BBC: "I've said I'll stand for a full second term, but I think after that it will be time for new leadership.

"Terms are like Shredded Wheat - two are wonderful but three might just be too many."

He named Mr Osborne, Home Secretary Theresa May and outgoing London mayor Boris Johnson as potential successors at the time.

But his position at the forefront of the campaign for the UK to remain in the European Union has meant some have questioned whether he can remain in the job if the 23 June referendum delivers a "Leave" result. The prime minister has said he will stay on, even if he ends up on the losing side.

But former chancellor Ken Clarke, a veteran pro-European Conservative, has suggested Mr Cameron "wouldn't last 30 seconds if he lost the referendum", predicting the party would be "plunged into a Conservative leadership crisis". And UKIP leader Nigel Farage told the BBC last week he did not think Mr Cameron would remain PM if the UK votes to leave.

Others campaigning for the UK to leave, say Mr Cameron should stay regardless of the result. Commons leader Chris Grayling said in April: "It would be disastrous, in my view, for the Leave cause if we vote to leave and then we get distracted by a Conservative leadership contest. " Former Conservative leadership contender David Davis has said he believes Mr Cameron could stay on, but would not be able to lead exit negotiations.

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