Friday, 20 September 2019

David Cameron unintentionally makes the case for Brexit - why didn't he campaign for Leave?

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The Queen has let be known, through an anonymous source of course, her 'displeasure and annoyance' with David Cameron for writing that he asked the Queen in the 2014 Scottish referendum to give some subtle hint that she wanted the Scots to remain in the UK.

In other words she is very angry with him and so she should be. This is not the first time he leaked what was said in conversations with his Sovereign.

Lots of people are angry with him because of his memoirs, Leavers and Remainers in equal measure.

Fraser Nelson, editor of the Spectator, is a man who like most Leavers decided he was one pretty late in the day. He explains in his article in the Daily Telegraph today that David Cameron’s memoirs are 'unintentionally, the most convincing case for Brexit that you will ever read'.
'Cameron started out a Eurosceptic, but one who thought that the irritations of the EU were a price worth paying for the general aims of solidarity and free trade. In opposition, he mocked politicians who “bang on about Europe” but in No 10 he soon found out why they did. 

'Once inside its inner circle, he was exposed to the horrors. The directives, the stitch-ups, the knives always out for the City of London. He found Silvio
Berlusconi advising a table of EU leaders to take a mistress in Brussels, because it was the only way to survive the late-night summits. The purpose of these meetings, he discovered, was to grind everyone into submission. Including, eventually, him.'

Fraser Nelson asks why Cameron did not become a Leaver and puts it down to his friendship with George Osborne, but certainly that is not it. For people like David Cameron, who are among other things policy wonks (not Boris, in other words), the difficulties of leaving are only too clear. 
The Financial Times said leaving was as impossible as taking eggs out of the cake - and still hopes that the UK proves them right by staying in. 

But it is much more than just that. Leave and Remain views, like all deeply held political views, are ultimately theological not pragmatic. 

In his memoirs, David Cameron does not argue for the EU any more than he did in the referendum campaign but he makes it clear he thinks that Leave campaign, and by implication Leave voters, was racist, Islamophobic and populist. This was the zeitgeist and it is because he understood the zeitgeist that he was the great Moderniser of his party. 

But modernity, by definition, changes all the time. Only historicists, who believe history has an inevitable direction, don't see that but ardent supporters of the EU ideal tend to be historicists. 

As Disraeli said, the unexpected always happens. Those who espouse the spirit of the age, like poor Mr Cameron, are widowed in the next age. 

In 2016 a new age began and David Cameron now seems a figure from the distant past, a bit like his (liberal) heroes Harold Macmillan and Garibaldi. 

If you think about it the EU is a Garibaldian idea in many ways. I still hope that Italy and Germany too can be broken up into their previous patchwork of states and Sicily and Bavaria once more be free.

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