LONDON — The British prime minister who called the Brexit referendum and then saw the public vote to leave the European Union says he is sorry for the divisions it has caused.
David Cameron said in an interview published Saturday that he thinks about the consequences of the Brexit referendum “every single day” and worries “desperately” about what will happen next.
“I deeply regret the outcome and accept that my approach failed,” he said. “The decisions I took contributed to that failure. I failed.”
He admitted that many people blame him for the Brexit divisions that have deepened since the referendum and will never forgive him, but he defended his decision to call the vote.
He spoke to The Times newspaper to promote his soon-to-be-published memoir. Cameron, who had supported remaining in the EU, resigned the morning after the 2016 referendum. He has stayed out of electoral politics since then and largely kept out of the public eye.
His two successors — first Theresa May and now Prime Minister Boris Johnson — have wrestled with the Brexit issue and have thus far been unable to win parliamentary backing for an exit plan agreed with EU leaders.
Johnson faces an Oct. 31 deadline for leaving the EU and has been instructed by Parliament to seek an extension, which he says he will not do despite concerns that leaving without a deal would cause severe economic problems and possible food and medicine shortages. He will meet with European leaders Monday to search for some compromise.
The 52-year-old Cameron attacked former allies Johnson and Michael Gove, who helped spearhead the “Leave” campaign.
Cameron says they “left the truth at home” during the campaign, citing among other things the claim that Britain could save 350 million pounds per week that was being sent to the EU and could use that money to improve the National Health Service.
He said the referendum turned into a Conservative Party “psychodrama” and that he had been “hugely depressed” about leaving his post as prime minister.