David Cameron would be in favour of leaving EU if he weren't PM, says Steve Hilton

David Cameron’s former election adviser and trusted confidant has claimed the prime minister would advocate leaving the EU if he were not leading the country.

Steve Hilton, who was Cameron’s most senior adviser in the 2010 election and his first few years in Downing Street, said the prime minister was a natural supporter of Brexit.

Hilton, who left No 10 for the US and later wrote a book, this week came out as a supporter of Britain leaving the EU, saying he wanted to put a stop to the “arrogant, unaccountable, hubristic elites” running Europe.

He told the Times he was sure that Cameron was instinctively on his side. “If he were a member of the public or a backbench MP, or a junior minister or even a cabinet minister, I’m certain he would be for leave,” Hilton said.

He also claimed to remember a meeting in the early days on Cameron’s team in which it was agreed that they were in favour of leaving the EU in Britain’s best interests and that was the basis of the arguments they were making.

The intervention is likely to annoy Downing Street as the prime minister intensifies his campaign to stay in the EU in the final few weeks before the 23 June referendum. Cameron has often said in stump speeches that he has become more in favour of staying in the EU compared with his position six years ago before he became prime minister as he has seen its importance for maintaining security.

A Number 10 source said: “The prime minister has been very clear that Britain will be stronger, safer and better off in a reformed EU.”

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Rowena Mason Political correspondent, for theguardian.com on Thursday 26th May 2016 00.17 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010