A principled, talented politician has bequeathed to his successor a constitutional crisisby Oliver Kamm / July 1, 2016 / Leave a comment
David Cameron succeeded in restoring the dominance of the Conservative Party at horrendous cost to the national interest. Though he didn’t intend the destructive part of that outcome, it is his handiwork and will be his political legacy. His premiership will be defined, like Anthony Eden’s, by a single disastrous decision. Unlike the Suez debacle, however, Cameron’s misjudgement has caused a rupture not just with Britain’s most important ally but with all our allies simultaneously. The referendum on EU membership, for which there was no reason beyond the internal politics of the Conservative Party, will have costs that are as yet unknown but are certain to be heavy. Britain will be poorer materially and culturally because of Cameron’s gamble. There may cease to be a United Kingdom altogether.
How did it come to this? When he unexpectedly won the Conservative leadership in 2005 against the uninspiring David Davis, Cameron had an acute sense of his party’s problems. Against Tony Blair, the dominant centrist politician in Europe, the Tories had collapsed in electoral support and public respect. They still bore a reputation for economic failure after the 1992 sterling crisis and a succession of leaders (one of them of awesome incompetence) had failed to make headway.