EurActiv.com

EU news and policy debates across languages

29/09/2016

Cameron leaves legacy of failure

UK & Europe

Cameron leaves legacy of failure

David Cameron’s political epitaph was carved in stone when he resigned the morning after Britons voted to quit the European Union.

Cameron had staged the referendum to try to unite his Conservative Party, where right-wing eurosceptics were agitating to leave the 28-nation bloc.

His expectation was that he would win the 23 June vote handily and then push ahead with social reforms to crown his second term in office.

But the high-stakes gamble failed catastrophically.

At a stroke, Britain was plunged into political, economic and constitutional crisis.

UK in political turmoil as Corbyn under pressure after Cameron quits

Britain’s Labour opposition leader, Jeremy Corbyn was faced with the resignation or dismissal of at least seven of his shadow cabinet on Sunday (26 June) in the wake of the Brexit vote – just 48 hours after Prime Minister David Cameron announced his own resignation.

EurActiv.com

Just as swiftly, Cameron’s own career was destroyed, destining him to be remembered as the prime minister who recklessly or unwittingly ended Britain’s 43-year membership of the EU.

Cameron is due to step down on Wednesday and new Conservative Party leader Theresa May will take his post.

May becomes next British PM on Wednesday, Article 50 issue left hanging

Theresa May was today (11 July)  set to become the next British prime minister, as her only rival dropped out of the race. It leaves the crux question of when she triggers Article 50, giving the UK two-year legal notice to leave the EU, hanging, as previously a new prime minister was not expected until September.

EurActiv.com

“A time will come for reflection on the good in Mr Cameron’s leadership… on his fundamentally correct vision for a one-nation Tory party in possession of the centre ground,” The Economist said.

“It will surely be dwarfed by this giant, nation-changing misstep, one guaranteed to scar the country for decades and diminish his place in the history books.”

Youngest PM in 200 years

The son of a stockbroker, Cameron was educated at the elite boarding school of Eton and at Oxford University, where he was admitted to the Bullingdon Club, a hard-drinking, socially exclusive student group.

He worked for the Conservatives as an advisor before a stint in public relations, which ended when he was elected to parliament in 2001.

Cameron rose swiftly through the ranks of the party – which was then struggling badly against prime minister Tony Blair’s Labour government – and was elected leader in 2005 at the age of 39.

He tried to “detoxify” the party brand in part by avoiding discussion of the EU, which has split the Conservatives since Margaret Thatcher’s premiership in the 1980s.

At the 2010 general election, Cameron became the youngest premier for 200 years but the centre-right Conservatives did not win enough seats to govern alone and had to form a coalition with the centrist Liberal Democrats.

Cameron, Clegg open new coalition era for Britain

New Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservatives and the smaller Liberal Democrat party led by Nick Clegg struck an agreement early today (12 May) to form Britain's first coalition government since 1945. Clegg is leading the Liberal Democrats back into government for the first time in 70 years.

EurActiv.com

The coalition was dominated by spending cuts as Britain emerged from recession, while foreign policy debate was largely hijacked by Conservative wrangling over the EU.

Cameron gambled on a referendum when Scotland voted to stay as part of Britain in 2014.

It paid off, but only after a fierce and divisive debate that some critics thought should have served as a warning for the EU referendum which was to follow.

EU and NATO breathes sigh of relief after Scotland 'No' vote

European Union and NATO officials expressed undisguised relief on Friday (19 September) at Scotland’s clear vote against independence from Britain, but some fretted that the genie of separatism may be out of the bottle in Europe.

EurActiv.com

After five years in coalition, the Conservatives won a surprise clear majority in the May 2015 general election, allowing them to rule alone.

The win meant that the EU referendum — first promised by Cameron in 2013 to placate his restive party, but which many in Westminster say he never believed would happen — became a reality.

Cameron touts UK vote win as mandate for 'tough' EU renegotiation

Prime Minister David Cameron touted his election victory as a strong mandate to renegotiate Britain’s relationship with the European Union, as his party proclaimed on Monday (11 May) a new-found unity over the traditionally divisive issue.

EurActiv.com

Beginning of the end

Cameron spent much of the rest of 2015 lobbying other European countries for a deal to improve Britain’s relations with the EU.

'Europe isn't working' says Cameron

Speaking to BuzzFeed, Cameron admitted any future negotiations would be “tough”, but maintained his stance that a continuation of the status quo was “not an option”.

EurActiv.com

When this was announced in February, it was derided as “thin gruel” by some Conservative MPs.

The bitterest blows to Cameron came as campaigning got under way.

Some of his most loyal lieutenants including justice minister Michael Gove said they would campaign for Brexit, while the then London mayor, Boris Johnson, also backed “Leave”.

Blow for Cameron as Boris Johnson backs Brexit campaign

London’s mayor Boris Johnson on Sunday (21 February) threw his weight behind the campaign for Britain to leave the European Union, in a blow for his old friend and rival Prime Minister David Cameron who had appealed for his backing.

EurActiv.com

For his part, Cameron’s warnings that the economy would be badly hit by a Leave vote failed to cut through.

The anti-EU camp scored heavily with arguments– derided by critics as deceitful or populist – that by leaving, Britain would curb immigration and its present contributions to the EU would be lavished on public health instead.

Fear of Eastern European EU migrants fuels Brexit campaign

Curbing migration from Eastern EU countries is a key goal for many Britons who plan to vote to leave the EU in a referendum on June 23. But many small firms believe the economic cost would be large, according to a new survey.

EurActiv.com

Although Britain’s political landscape is still shaking after the Brexit quake, Cameron’s allies insist that history will be kind to him.

They endorse his self-image as a “compassionate Conservative” who hoped to remake Britain as a more equal, tolerant society.

They cite his stabilisation of the economy through austerity cuts; the introduction of gay marriage in 2014; and closer trade ties with fast-growing economies like China and India.

But after six years in office, Cameron leaves a country mired in its deepest crisis since World War II – and he bequeaths his successor a “Europe problem” that ironically is far worse than before.

Brussels will breathe a sigh of relief when I'm gone, says Cameron

EU leaders and officials will breathe “a sigh of relief” if David Cameron loses May’s national elections, the British Prime Minister said Friday (20 March) after possibly his last European Council meeting.

EurActiv.com

 

Background

Cameron: UK authority in Europe will rise after 'in' vote

Britain's influence in the European Union will be stronger if it votes to remain in the bloc in a June 23 referendum, Prime Minister David Cameron said on Sunday (12 June) with the latest polls showing Britons almost evenly split over whether to stay or go.

EurActiv.com