Published on 13 Jul 2016

David Cameron will be remembered for gambling and losing

David Cameron’s last Prime Minister’s Questions showed him at his best, the bit of the job he seemed to do effortlessly. It was astute, witty and self-deprecating. But history will cast it aside.

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The same superior gifts that fed these performances arguably did for him: a belief in his own ability to out-perform others politically and win a referendum that was always more finely balanced than he thought.

He famously described the “No” victory in the Scottish referendum as a total success: “Alex Salmond? Shot, bagged, on the wall.” It doesn’t always look like that if you’re looking at the seriously energised SNP political base.

You get a sense that Mr Cameron inhaled a bit the General Election victory of 2015 as well. He told EU leaders at last December’s European Council: “I’m a winner.”

David Cameron will be remembered for gambling and losing on the very high stakes of the UK’s EU membership.

Ken Clarke reminded the Commons of the heavy burden of work on Brexit still to come. The SNP Parliamentary leader, Angus Robertson, said the vandalism of the EU exit meant his party “would not be applauding”. Labour’s frontbench decided to clap quietly and undemonstratively. I counted six Labour MPs who stood and applauded. They must hope the camera didn’t catch them with evidence for the de-selection file.

Tories stood to a man and a woman, the DUP MPs too, plus the SDLP and, rather half-heartedly, the Lib Dems. Nick Clegg’s was a masterclass in conflicted reluctant applause.

The focus is inevitably on the alliances in her own party that Theresa May forges today with her government appointments. This is not a “reshuffle,” by the way, all posts are at her disposal from the moment she sees the Queen. This is a new administration.

Tonight, though, is the first moment to start building international alliances, or at least friendly lines of communication.

Theresa May will make some very important phone calls this evening. The one to the outgoing US President matters less than the ones to EU leaders. She may be wise to flatter France with an early call and maybe with an early visit too. Germany knows all too well its influence in Europe. It doesn’t need to be flattered. Others do.

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4 reader comments

  1. anon says:

    I think it is great news about Larry the cat. Does having 9 lives help him be the great survivor at Number 10,? or perhaps he has other personal qualities that incoming Prime Ministers might learn from? perhaps. mmmmm, perhaps say looking cute and cuddly whilst keeping the claws carefully under wraps, helps make a great survivor?

    innocent,and very cute indeed, but at the end of the day- quiet deadly- if needs be,

    purrrrrrrr !

  2. Andrew Dundas says:

    The Conservative Party’s referendum was entirely a response to the internal struggles within their party. Those divisions obliged Cameron to take the biggest GAMBLE in 70 years. And which has led to the most damaging outcome for any voluntary decision. Not in response to any ally. But in response to the tiny Conservative membership.

    He promised that the Conservative governments would reduce net immigration to ‘the tens of thousands’. He knew that reckless claim couldn’t be fulfilled. So he cancelled the ID Card project to make it even harder to track visitors who over-stay their Visa terms. His reckless promises led to this terrible error of judgement. It was a reckless gamble that has shoved us into a series of very serious economic and political disasters.

    No external government urged on this reckless gamble. His Cabinet – each and every one of them – was part of this huge folly.

  3. PAUL WHITE says:

    I am sick to death of the BBC and others saying that David Cameron Gambled and lost, no he did not, we live in a democracy and democracy won, by saying he lost implies democracy lost along with David Cameron.

    instead of attacking him why not take a fresh look at the political elites from all the main three parties in collaboration with the EU and the leader of EU member states who were collaborators in the great betrayal of the British People, the referendum was lost on control of our boarders and immigration and yet Gordon Brown had not won any legal mandate from the British people to sign away these powers, the EU knew and ignored the fact that we were promised a referendum and were a party to this great betrayal of our democratic rights that were signed away, we now know after the EU referendum result he did not ask us because he knew he could not win it.

  4. PAUL WHITE says:

    I am sick to death of the BBC and others saying that David Cameron Gambled and lost, no he did not, we live in a democracy and democracy won, by saying he lost implies democracy lost along with David Cameron.

    instead of attacking him why not take a fresh look at the political elites from all the main three parties in collaboration with the EU and the leader of EU member states who were collaborators in the great betrayal of the British People, the referendum was lost on control of our boarders and immigration and yet Gordon Brown had not won any legal mandate from the British people to sign away these powers, the EU knew and ignored the fact that we were promised a referendum and were a party to this great betrayal of our democratic rights that were signed away, we now know after the EU referendum result he did not ask us because he knew he could not win it.

    this was never about him it was about our democracy that we fought in two world wars to protect and get back, after it was seeded away with no mandate from the British people, in my opinion those who were responsible for doing this as a result of the EU REFERENDUM result have serious Questions to ask as to why it took so many years to put this question to the British people, I think David Cameron will be remembered for his biggest achievement will be this referendum which returned our democracy back to the British people.

    but David Cameron cant be said to have gambled and lost if Democracy was the real winner, history might judge this differently

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