David Cameron has accused Boris Johnson and Michael Gove of behaving “appallingly” during the Brexit referendum campaign.
The former prime minister’s anguish over the Brexit fallout has been revealed for the first time in his book For The Record, and in an interview with The Times.
Mr Cameron – who gave the green light for the vote to take place – attacked the behaviour of Mr Johnson and Mr Gove.
The pair were prominent figureheads for the Leave campaign in 2016.
“Over the issue of whether or not we had a veto over Turkey [accession to the EU] and over the issue of the £350 million on the bus, I think they left the truth at home,” Mr Cameron said.
He also criticised the PM’s recent behaviour in suspending – or proroguing – parliament for five weeks – a move many critics say is a tactic to stop MPs interfering with his Brexit strategy.
Mr Cameron said: “Taking the whip from hard-working Conservative MPs and sharp practices using prorogation of parliament have rebounded.
“I didn’t support either of those things. Neither do I think a no-deal Brexit is a good idea.”
The 52-year-old admitted he has been “hugely depressed” by the outcome of the Brexit vote and that he is “truly sorry” for the political turmoil it has unleashed, admitting his approach “failed”.
However, in his book, the former PM defended his decision to hold the public vote.
“But on the central question of whether it was right to renegotiate Britain’s relationship with the EU and give people the chance to have their say on it, my view remains that this was the right approach to take,” said Mr Cameron.
“I believe that, particularly with the eurozone crisis, the organisation was changing before our very eyes, and our already precarious place in it was becoming harder to sustain.”
He admitted that some people will “never forgive him” for holding the vote, and said a second referendum cannot be ruled out “because we’re stuck”.
Mr Cameron also said he recognised “the uncertainty has been painful and difficult” since the referendum, adding that “it’s been difficult for all sorts of people in all sorts of walks of life”.
Asked “how hard” life has been for him personally since the referendum result, he said: “I think about this every day.
“Every single day I think about it, the referendum and the fact that we lost and the consequences and the things that could have been done differently, and I worry desperately about what is going to happen next.”
Mr Cameron was asked by The Times whether he has trouble sleeping.
“I worry about it a lot. I worry about it a lot,” he replied.
The former prime minister also revealed that the morning after losing the EU referendum he phoned Barack Obama and Europe’s leaders to tell them he was “sorry” for the outcome.
Mr Cameron also refers to Mr Gove as “mendacious” in his book.
He describes how he wanted to demote Mr Gove from education secretary to chief whip in 2014 because he was alienating teachers.
When Mr Gove agreed to the move but then changed his mind, he sent him a text message saying: “You must realise that I divide the world into team players and w******. You’ve always been a team player. Please don’t become a w*****.”
He added that Mr Gove also promised him he would not play a leading part in the Leave campaign.
Among the former PM’s non-Brexit related revelations are that he was often “off his head” smoking cannabis on an island in the Thames while at the public school Eton.
Andrew Billen, The Times journalist who interviewed Mr Cameron, told Sky News: “I think the great charge that he is open to is that he is complacent, that he doesn’t really care.
“People think ‘his life is OK, he’s a rich man’… and this is water off a duck’s back.
“It was very clear to me that he does care. I asked if he had been depressed and he said ‘very depressed’.
“I asked whether it was clinical and he said he had not been taking medication.”
Mr Cameron said in the interview that the book was written on trains, planes and at his desk.
It had been widely reported that the former prime minister purchased a £25,000 shepherd’s hut to write his book in.
For The Record is being serialised in The Times and Sunday Times and will hit the shelves a little more than a week before the start of this year’s Conservative Party conference.