Media tycoon Murdoch hails Cameron ally for wanting Britain to leave EU

Rupert Murdoch, Executive Chairman News Corp and Chairman and CEO 21st Century Fox speaks at the WSJD Live conference in Laguna Beach, California October 29, 2014. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/Files

LONDON (Reuters) - Media tycoon Rupert Murdoch congratulated a close ally of Prime Minister David Cameron on Saturday for wanting to campaign to leave the European Union in an upcoming referendum.

Cameron hailed a landmark deal he said gave Britain “special status” in the European Union and pledged to campaign heart and soul to stay in the EU at a referendum expected in June.

But he acknowledged that one of his closest political allies, Justice Secretary Michael Gove, would campaign to leave the EU, saying he was disappointed but not surprised. He suggested other Conservatives may also join the “out” camp.

“Congratulations Michael Gove,” Murdoch said on Twitter. “Friends always knew his principles would overcome his personal friendships.”

The message from the 84-year-old executive chairman of News Corp and 21st Century Fox Inc raises the possibility that some of the media tycoon’s British newspapers could campaign for an EU exit.

Previous editors of Murdoch’s Sun tabloid, the country’s biggest selling newspaper, have said they sometimes reflected Murdoch’s opinions in the paper on major issues such as which political party to back at elections.

Murdoch had previously used the social media network to call Cameron’s renegotiation with the EU a “non-deal”, adding “Now he’s rumored to be begging cabinet colleagues to put aside beliefs.”

Murdoch’s News Corp newspapers include the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post and the Sun and the Times in Britain.

Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; editing by Kate Holton