As an admirer of David Cameron, I was appalled when he broke his word and resigned on the morning of the Brexit vote two years ago. Not for the first time, I was thrown because I had taken him at his word and believed him when he said that he’d stay no matter what the result. His decision to ban Whitehall from preparing for a ‘no’ result denied crucial preparation time with consequences still being felt today. So I had a certain sympathy with Danny Dyer who had a few things to say about Cameron on ITV’s Good Evening Britain last night.
Danny Dyer on Brexit. pic.twitter.com/lxf8pEDlC6
— Christopher Snowdon (@cjsnowdon) June 28, 2018
As I say in my Telegraph column today, the UK government still has no Brexit strategy with just nine months to go. And a crunch summit in Chequers next week is being called, in spite of there being no progress on working out what deal we would want. The “no deal” option – our strongest card – is being taken off the table because there is no time to make the physical preparations for it.
From the moment that Cameron called the referendum, he ought to have had a large team in government working on what would happen if the country voted ‘no’. But he didn’t, because he wished to spin a narrative that leaving the EU would be a disaster and didn’t want any government documents leaking suggesting to the contrary. An immense and unforgivable dereliction of duty.
Looking at recent weeks, I’ve often thought how we miss Cameron’s leadership style: his ability to bring people together to reach a consensus. Theresa May isn’t much of a people person and she needed a large majority so she could rule by edict. When she lost that majority, she lost the ability to steer her government – with the consequent drift on Brexit.
Cameron’s great flaw was taking advice from his friends rather than those who were good at advice. Had he advocated Brexit, which he should have when the EU refused to renegotiate the terms of UK membership, he would be in power now and celebrating astonishing achievement in school and welfare reform, as well as income inequality levels and the unemployment rate at 30 year and 43 year lows. Instead he is being mocked for being “in Nice with his trotters up” while the hard work is being done. Nothing he did in office demeaned him like the leaving of it. And this will, alas, define him.