David Cameron’s last Cabinet – ‘no emoting’
At his last Cabinet David Cameron spoke briefly and fairly unemotionally about the issues that had gone before the many Cabinets he had chaired. As one Cabinet Minister put it: “Most of us apart from Osborne and Gove have never had an emotional sort of relationship with him and so there was no emoting.”
Theresa May then spoke congratulating the man who is Prime Minister until tomorrow afternoon for turning round the Conservative Party, taking the leap into Coalition and then winning a majority for the Tories in 2015.
George Osborne spoke after her saying that David Cameron was a “quintessential Englishman” and didn’t like a lot of fuss or emotion.
True to that description, David Cameron then said he didn’t want each Cabinet member giving a eulogy and that business was concluded.
In the room for this final Cabinet and a bit more choked with emotion than the man himself were the team that has been with David Cameron for most of his time in No. 10. Some were said to be so distraught on the morning of the referendum result that they struggled and failed to contain their emotions.
The mantle now passes to a very different type of leader. Ken Clarke once said that David Cameron’s smooth and alpha male style of leadership was an impersonation of Tony Blair, himself mimicking Bill Clinton who was modelling himself on John F Kennedy. Theresa May will be less managed, not always a polished production. Today she wandered this way and that as she left Cabinet, unsure where her chauffeur driven car was, less practised in the art of projecting superiority. “No bad thing,” one Cabinet minister said. “Cameron allowed himself to be overly managed.”
In the brief hiatus before Theresa May adds Prime Minister to her new job title as Leader of the Conservative Party, Tory MPs are busy speculating about who will get the ministerial prizes and a lot of them seem to be doing so in very tribal terms.
Today I heard about an extraordinary ring-round of Tory MPs that happened over the weekend after the referendum. More than 70 Tory MPs I am told were in contact with each other with one mission in mind: to persuade candidates for the leadership of their party that there must on no account be an early General Election.
Some simply didn’t want more instability. Many, I am told, worried that a new PM would effectively use the election as a second referendum, getting themselves a mandate for watered down Brexit, by-passing the referendum result and undermining the power of backbenchers who can hold sway over a government when its majority is only 12.
In effect, many of these Tory MPs were trying to avoid a larger majority. Quite a state of affairs.
A referendum which David Cameron had promised would settle the Europe issue and Tory divisions on Europe for good has, as many predicted, so far done the opposite.
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