Downing Street officials considered calling the police over the leaking of a letter revealing that the Prime Minister was plotting his campaign to keep Britain in the European Union (EU) even as he was reassuring Parliamentarians that he had not ruled out a recommendation to leave.
The letter, written by businessman Rupert Soames, has caused uproar within Conservative ranks as it proves Mr Cameron was already in discussions with business leaders over tactics for the referendum Remain campaign before negotiations on Britain’s membership with the EU had been concluded.
Senior civil servants have launched an inquiry into the leaking of the letter, with one disclosing to The Times that they had discussed whether to involve the police in the matter.
“The discussion was between two of the most senior civil servants at the top of government. They were considering calling the police, though they were hoping that it wouldn’t come to that and that the Queen’s Speech would distract from it,” the source said.
Downing Street figures are said to have told business leaders that they are “absolutely furious” about the leak, insisting that they are “going to find out what has happened”.
The leak was acutely embarrassing for Mr Cameron. During the renegotiation period, he had assured Parliamentarians that if adequate reforms were not given by European leaders, he had not ruled out recommending a Leave vote to the British public.
“Let me say again, if we can’t secure these changes, I rule nothing out,” Mr Cameron told the Commons.
But at the same time, he was meeting with Mr Soames, a director of Serco (a security company which has received millions of pounds’ worth of government contracts with European instititions), to discuss the campaign to keep Britain within the EU.
Mr Soames wrote to Mr Cameron to thank him for a “very useful meeting.” The letter, seen by the Daily Mail, includes details of a plan to persuade business leaders to include warnings over Brexit in their annual reports, due to be published before the June referendum.
In the aftermath of the leak, Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg called the plotting “outrageous,” and, if true, called on the Prime Minister to resign.
“It is a real scandal,” he said, “because assuming it is true then Parliament was misled, and if Parliament is misled, historically that is a matter of resignations.
“I think to be organising the Remain campaign when saying that you rule nothing out, not just to MPs but to the British people, is shocking…
“It is a scandal of the highest order.”