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  • Urges successor to keep Britain close to EU

DAVID Cameron yesterday said being British Prime Minister has been the “greatest honour of my life”.

In his final words, Mr Cameron listed job cre­ation, cutting the deficit and gay marriage among the key achievements of his premiership, saying the economy is “immeasurably stronger” than when he took office six years ago.

“It has not been an easy journey and of course we have not got every decision right, but I do believe that our country is “much stron­ger,” he said. Flanked by his family, he thanked his three children and his wife Sa­mantha, who he described as the “love of my life,” who has “kept me vaguely sane.”

He concluded: “It has been the greatest honour of my life to serve our coun­try as Prime Minister over these last six years, and to serve as leader of my party for almost eleven years. “And as we leave for the last time, my only wish is con­tinued success for this great country that I love so very much.”

Accompanied by his wife and three children he then got in a car to Buckingham Palace where he offered his resignation to the Queen. Meanwhile, Cameron has urged his successor Theresa May to keep Britain close to the European Union, even as she embarks on the mon­umental task of ending four decades of membership.

Cameron is stepping down after Britons rejected his entreaties and voted to leave the EU in a referen­dum last month, severely undermining European ef­forts to forge greater unity and creating economic un­certainty across the 28-na­tion bloc.

“My advice to my succes­sor, who is a brilliant nego­tiator, is that we should try to be as close to the Europe­an Union as we can be for the benefits of trade, coop­eration and of security,” he told parliament in his last appearance before resign­ing. “The Channel will not get any wider once we leave the European Union, and that is the relationship we should seek.”

May, 59, must try to limit the damage to British trade and investment as she rene­gotiates the country’s ties with its 27 EU partners. She must also attempt to unite a divided ruling Conservative party and a fractured nation in which many, on the evi­dence of the vote, feel angry with the political elite and left behind by the forces of globalization.

Despite the serious backdrop, there was an atmosphere of hilarity in parliament as Cameron traded humorous jabs with beleaguered opposition La­bour leader Jeremy Corbyn. “This morning I had meet­ings with ministerial col­leagues and others. Other than one meeting this af­ternoon with Her Majesty the Queen, the diary for the rest of my day is remark­ably light,” Cameron said to laughter in a packed House of Commons.

The 49-year-old present­ed his resignation to the queen at Buckingham Pal­ace at around 1600 GMT. Then May paid her own visit to the monarch to be formally entrusted with the job, before entering 10 Downing Street to become Britain’s second woman prime minister after Marga­ret Thatcher.

Cameron said the govern­ment was working hard to ensure that an estimated 3 million EU citizens can stay in Britain, but this would depend on reciprocal rights for Britons in Europe.

He took the opportunity to trumpet his government’s achievements in generating one of the fastest growth rates among western econo­mies, chopping the budget deficit, creating 2.5 million jobs and legalizing gay mar­riage.

Yet his legacy will be overshadowed by his failed referendum gamble, which he had hoped would keep Britain at the heart of a re­formed EU.