David Cameron has said he “understands” public anger at his decision to hold the Brexit referendum, and that he will never be forgiven by some who wanted to remain in the EU.

The former prime minister used the promise of a referendum as a central campaign pledge to win the 2015 general election – a political gambit that ultimately led to the end of his career and Britain’s position in the European Union.

Now in an interview with The Times, the ex-leader of the Conservatives admitted he will never be forgiven by some members of the public for allowing the vote to take place.

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Asked if he understood how angry people are with him, Mr Cameron said: “I know a lot of people are."

He added: “Some people will never forgive me for holding a referendum. Others for holding it and losing it.

“There are, of course, all those people who wanted a referendum and wanted to leave who are glad that a promise was made and a promise was kept.”

When asked if he was shouted at in public over his time in Number 10, the former leader said he had experienced “robust exchanges” since stepping down from office.

However, despite his belief that Britain should have remained in the EU, he maintained that a public vote was “inevitable” – even if he failed to win the support of the public by gaining concessions from Europe beforehand.

He added “This issue needed to be addressed and I thought a referendum was coming, so better to try to get some reforms we needed and have a referendum. But I accept that, you know, that effort failed.

“I do understand some people are very angry because they didn’t want to leave the EU. Neither did I.”

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