For George Osborne and Boris Johnson, the European Union referendum provided a potential arena to further their ambitions to succeed David Cameron as prime minister. It may instead have cut them short.
The chancellor of the exchequer, the government’s key strategist in its push to keep Britain in the EU, has faced criticism for using the Treasury to support a campaign dubbed by opponents “Project Fear.” Former London Mayor Johnson, the highest-profile campaigner for a so-called Brexit, has also seen his credibility take a blow, as he struggles to make his mark as a serious politician.
With both sides swapping accusations and insults, the campaign has split the Conservative Party down the middle. Speculation of a challenge to Cameron’s leadership in the event of Brexit –- or even after a close result — has risen, and the prime minister has confirmed he won’t be seeking a third term.