Thanks for your advice on Brexit, David Cameron – but nobody will be listening

Let’s be clear: David Cameron is neither the hero Gotham deserves, nor the one it needs right now

Click to follow
The Independent Online

At last.

As the continued rambunctious bungling of Brexit continues its rampage through British political life, and with the DUP providing a vigilante force to protect the doors of 10 Downing Street from marauding invaders as a miserable and muzzled Theresa May squats inside, we can all breathe a sigh of relief.

At last – that sanguine voice of certainty, clarity, and honesty has rung out.

David Cameron has come down from on high to dispense his sage wisdom upon the people of this nation.

The former Prime Minister piped up at a business conference in Poland that Theresa May must “listen to other parties” on the issue of Brexit, following her disastrous and almost pity-inspiring electoral showing last Thursday.

“I think there will be pressure for a softer Brexit,” he said, adding that Parliament “deserves a say”. “It’s going to be difficult, there’s no doubt about that, but perhaps an opportunity to consult more widely with the other parties on how best we can achieve it.”

Thanks, Dave. I can call you Dave, right?

Your input is really valued here, wise force for political good that you are.

Nope, sorry. Can’t keep it up.

Let’s be clear: David Cameron is neither the hero Gotham deserves, nor the one it needs right now.

Though it’s tempting to look back on him fondly, as a relatively liberal, relatively centrist, relatively stable alternative to the current quagmire hellfire of a government, with its intensely dubious Prime Minister, David Cameron is not a man who has earned the right to enter the ranks of the “wise elder statesman” brigade just yet.

Let’s not forget that David Cameron is the man who had years leading a party that was out of government for over a decade, took on a tired government with a weak leader, plagued by foreign policy and credibility scandals after the most devastating financial crash in generations, and still couldn’t even scrape a majority.

Let’s not forget that he barely managed to scrape a majority the second time round, and only did so by unashamedly slaughtering his coalition partners, and inching over the line with the lowest ever share of the vote for a Conservative majority government.

Theresa May should admit result is a rejection of hard Brexit, says EU negotiator

He is the man who tried to use the tool of a public referendum to shore up his own side of the argument (and his own vanity) not once, not twice, but three times – on AV, Scotland and Europe – and never seemed to countenance the possibility that things might not go his way.

And when they did finally go against his personal desires, he bailed at the first sign of trouble.

Of course, he was right in saying: “I do not think it would be right for me to try to be the captain that steers our country to its next destination.” As in, I thought this was a totally nonsense way to go, so I probably shouldn’t be the one taking us there.

But to dash off to the pub so very quickly after the large pile of mess had been dumped onto the desk was hardly the epitome of great statesmanship. And though such accusations should not be made lightly, it almost – almost – stank of cowardice, and of childishness.

For once, the man in the glistening navy suit hadn’t got exactly what he wanted, and so he was going off to sulk in someone else’s multimillion-pound house in west London. Never mind taking one on the chin in order to provide a calming sense of stability and continuity in the short term, at a time when markets were screaming, businesses were panicking, and families and friends were either shouting at each other across the breakfast table or collectively obnoxiously roaring or mourning the loss of a country they thought they knew.

Let’s be honest, Dave. If you really thought that Theresa May’s hard Brexit, driven entirely by one party without any cross-bench consensus or cooperation, was a serious problem, you might have thought to say something at any point over the past year. Indeed, as an MP continuing to sit in the House of Commons you could have done. Up until the point at which you bailed on that, too.

Or maybe during the election campaign, you could have piped up with a word of caution – perhaps an endorsement of the Conservatives that came with some serious caveats and some snippets of advice for Tories to not forget what made them a vaguely – though only vaguely – winning force over the past seven years.

To be honest, anything would have been better than that unpleasant snap of your toes. Thanks for that.

Whatever else happens, we must not let Dave’s days become whitewashed, rose-tinted days of beautiful peace and tranquillity, of national unity and stability. It’s all relative, of course, and in comparison to our current pugnacious, unstable, incompetently saboteur-crushing Government, the smiling faces of Cameron and his ilk tempt nostalgia.

But none of this would have happened if it weren’t for him. There would be no referendum, no Brexit, no long-brewing howl of rage over long-term decreases in real wages, supposed “all in this together” cuts while the debt kept climbing up and those at the top pretended nothing had changed, and no coalition of chaos to shore up failing support for an unliked Prime Minister.

So thanks, Dave. But no thanks.