David Cameron is not given to melodrama but he has starred in enough. For the time being, there are three moments of history to remember, outside that famous door. The time when he walked through it with Nick Clegg. The time - even more surprising - that he walked through it on his own, just thirteen months ago.
And now this, which in time will be the only time that mattered. The UK out of Europe. The union with Scotland on the brink. Northern Ireland too. All for what's being called a gamble but is in fact simply a strategic failure.
"I love this country,” he said, his voice cracking. The 74th Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and, more latterly, Northern Ireland. And there will in all likelihood be just one more, before Little England is loosed upon the world.
‘Broken Britain’ is a term that has forced its way into public parlance and the Cameron years - six of them, now over. Well it will be broken, now. And this will be all that he is remembered for.
“I am very proud to have been Prime Minister of this country for six years,” he said, as he strode out into the morning light. “Proud of what we’ve achieved. Keeping our promises to the poorest people in the world. Restoring Britain’s economic strength.”
It was a highlights reel. Significant achievements, some of them, but all were leading with insidious intent to an overwhelming admission.
“I think the country required fresh leadership to take it in this [new] direction. I will steady the ship for the coming weeks and months.
“There needs to no precise timetable in place,” he said, but “a new Prime Minister should be in place before the Conservative Party Conference in October.”
It is more than ten years since he took over a factionalised and failing party. He transformed it, and now he leaves it as he left it. It is hard not to see how without him, it will always be thus.
As he turned around and strode back through the door, the hair on the back of his head gone grey overnight. The youngest ex-Prime Minister since 1895, drawing his political pension. Yesterday’s man now, when the full peril of tomorrow is when his party will need him most.
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