Former Prime Minister David Cameron seems sad about Brexit, but also appears unable to admit that he was wrong to gamble with the fate of the nation, writes Gina Davidson.
There has been a lot written about David Cameron and his legacy this week. No doubt it will have delighted his publishers. Never could they have imagined the UK would still be embroiled in Brexit when they chose this month to launch his political memoir.
Cameron too will be happy to be back in the limelight, something he’s shied away from over the last three years, reportedly hiding his embarrassment in a pastiche of a shepherd’s hut in his garden. Unsurprisingly, he couldn’t even do self-inflicted isolation properly; hair shirt by Hermes no doubt.
But then it’s all performance and no substance with Cameron. All polished veneer on top of flat-pack MDF. A living Rorschach inkblot test of a politician that even now, three years on from the EU referendum – a vote which George Osborne and Michael Gove advised him against – even after he’s published his autobiography, there are still Tory MPs who will give diametrically opposing views on just what his stance was, and is, on Europe. MP George Eustice, Cameron’s press secretary from 2005 to 2008, said his old boss was a critical Eurosceptic who “believed European integration had gone too far”, but now-expelled former Tory Ken Clarke, says at heart, Cameron, was “a perfectly sound pro-European” who only “nodded in the direction” of Eurosceptics to preserve party unity. What a job he did. Three cheers for the jolly old fellow.
Now, though, he’s sad. So sad. It’s a sad, sad situation (just look at the sadness in his eyes). He’s appalled by the actions of his old mucker Boris Johnson as he kicks Tory MPs out their party and MPs out of Parliament, and the fact that the UK is being torn asunder by Brexit nationalism, which could ultimately, according to some predictions, also result in the end of the Union.
Who could have seen it coming? Certainly not David Cameron. He was only the leader of his party and Prime Minister when he called the EU referendum in a bid to settle internal Tory rows. He was only leader of his party and Prime Minister when the very day after the Scottish independence referendum – the very next day – he stood outside Downing Street and pitted English interests against Scottish ones with his EVEL announcement, again for internal party political reasons. Who could blame him for what came next?
His mea culpas this week over the mess he left behind ring hollow. Yes, he said he’s sorry, but he hasn’t said he was wrong. Instead Cameron has blamed everyone else in an attempt to shirk responsibility. So he put up his hands to actually calling the referendum, but his failure to win? Well the finger of blame has been pointed at the behaviours of Johnson and Gove, at the government’s lawyers who continued to remind him that European law did have supremacy in areas of EU competence and, of course, at the EU itself.
No-one except the Eurosceptics in his party (and perhaps his coalition buddy Nick Clegg) wanted a referendum. Europe was way down the list of voters’ concerns at the time. But Cameron believed he was a winner. He thought he couldn’t lose. He’d won the leadership of his party and the Scottish independence referendum. The EU vote would be a skoosh.
He gambled and lost. He was wrong. And it would take a politician of real integrity to admit that. Instead Cameron is proving once again he should never have been PM. For really, he’s just a good PR man.