Sunderland Conservative leader: ‘Cameron had to go after EU Referendum kick in the teeth’

Councillor Peter Wood.
Councillor Peter Wood.
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Sunderland's Tory leader has said David Cameron had no choice but to resign after voters dealt him a 'kick in the teeth' in the EU Referendum.

Britain is heading on a path out of the EU after 52% of British voters cast their ballots in favour of leaving the union.

The result prompted David Cameron to announce he would stand down as Prime Minister in the coming months.
Councillor Peter Wood, who leads the Conservatives on Sunderland City Council, said he was saddened both by the referendum result, and by Mr Cameron's decision – but added he had no choice but to do so.

"You can't kick the Prime Minister in the teeth like that and expect him to continue in office," he said.

"He had passionately campaigned – perhaps too passionately – for the UK to remain in the EU, and unfortunately the majority of voters have said 'we don't agree with you, we don't believe you, we don't share your view'."

But Coun Wood stood by his party leader's record.

"I think he has been a very good prime minister and I think he's been a strong leader for the party. I voted for him in the leadership contest and I have agreed with him on almost everything," he said.

Councillor Wood said he had personally been a firm supporter of Britain remaining part of the EU.

Sunderland came out 61% in favour of leaving the EU.

Coun Wood said voters in the city felt disenfranchised and felt they had not benefited to the extent of other areas.

He added: "Nissan has contributed significantly to the North East economy, and perhaps wouldn't have come here if the UK hadn't been in the UK."

Contenders to replace David Cameron:

Boris Johnson –The former London mayor is the bookies' favourite to succeed his Old Etonian school chum at No 10. Mr Johnson previously insisted he had less chance of taking the top job than being "reincarnated as an olive" but his protestations have done little to disguise his leadership ambitions. After leading the Brexiteers to victory, his stock among the widely Eurosceptic Conservatives grassroots will be higher than ever. But Tory leadership contests have a funny habit of failing to return the dead cert.

Michael Gove: The Justice Secretary has seen his public profile increase over the last few weeks and, bar the occasional sticky moment, he is generally regarded to have had a good campaign. Mr Gove, whose once close friendship with Mr Cameron has come under strain as the rough and tumble of the battle took its toll, has seen his poll ratings shoot up, and Ladbrokes gives him 5/1 odds of moving into Downing Street.

Theresa May: Hanging on to the Home Secretary brief, which notoriously ruins political careers, for six years shows Mrs May's durability. Although a Remain supporter, she disappeared off the radar during the campaign, leaving her relatively unscathed. No fan of Mr Cameron, she has been quietly courting the party's rank and file in readiness for his departure and is placed by the bookies as second to Mr Johnson.

George Osborne: The Chancellor's hopes of moving next door have faded dramatically. An upturn in economic fortunes under his stewardship saw his popularity in the party increase but Mr Osborne is damaged by his inextricable links to the Prime Minister. Backbenchers said his decision to back Remain ensured any leadership bid was dead in the water.

Stephen Crabb

The Work and Pensions Secretary is hugely popular in the Conservative parliamentary party and comes from the sort of ordinary background that chimes with many voters.

But the sudden contest may come a little too soon for him to make much headway.

Ruth Davidson

The Scottish Conservative leader has impressed many with her performance during the campaign and electoral success north of the border last month.

But a Westminster seat would need to be found for her to have a viable shot at the top job. Ms Davidson has also suggested such a move is not for her, describing life at No 10 as lonely.