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Editorial: David Cameron is just as responsible for this Brexit mess as Cummings – The Independent, Independent

Editorial: David Cameron is just as responsible for this Brexit mess as Cummings – The Independent, Independent


    

                           

                          

                                                                         

Well, someone had to say it. Someone, who was once close and friendly towardsBoris JohnsonandMichael Gove, that is. Someone who knew them as well as most, and could judge their character at close quarters.

                                                                                                                     

And soDavid Cameronhas at last delivered his devastating verdict on the leaders of the Leave campaign. It was not just that Mr Gove and Mr Johnson “behaved appallingly”, betrayed friendships and attacked the policies of the government they served in. It was that they betrayed their country, no less, and “left the truth at home” during the 2016 referendum campaign.

                                                                                                                     

Indeed, in Mr Johnson’s case he even managed to betray his own record when mayor of London as a pro-European who knew the continued success of the City and Canary Wharf, as well as the capital’s public services and much else , depended vitally on EU membership. Mr Gove, a longer-standing and more sincere Eurosceptic has more of an excuse for his behavior, but not for the fictitious claims, such as that “Turkey is joining the EU”. (It still hasn’t).

                                                                                         

  

    

We’ll tell you what’s true. You can form your own view.

    

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Mr Cameron seems remorseful about losing the referendum, but not holding the vote. He gives the impression it was an inevitability. Perhaps it was, but not at that time and in those circumstances. It was far too risky to hold one at all, and it could have been made explicitly advisory. The public would not have much noticed if the referendum had been skipped. The topic was way down the list of voters’ concerns in 2015 and 2016. The only people who were agitating for it were members of Mr Cameron’s own party, plus the “fruitcakes” of Ukip.

                                                                                                                     

It is not too much to say that Mr Cameron allowed himself far too easily to be bullied by the likes of Nigel Farage. The referendum in the form it took was disastrous, and far from inevitable.

                                                                                                                     

Still more grievous, Mr Cameron vetoed any planning for a Leave vote. Thus the full reality of what a no-deal Brexit would mean was poorly understood both in government or in the nation at large. This was negligent and damaging in all events, as we have seen. Or, put another way, if politicians and voters had known in the summer of 2016 what they know now about a no-deal Brexit, then the referendum result might have been very different.

                                                                                                                     

In his own way, maybe born of complacency or arrogance, Mr Cameron contributed to the conspiracy of silence about hard Brexit that suited both sides in the campaign: Vote Leave because they claimed an advantageous deal would be easy, and Stronger In because they would be admitting failure.

                                                                                                                                          

        

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So when fans of Dominic Cummings claim his ruthless efforts won the vote for Leave, they fail to acknowledge the misjudgements and miscalculations of Mr Cameron that contributed so much to that historic error. Like so many of his predecessors in No 10 since Ted Heath departed in 1974, he failed to make the positive case for Europe, and allowed an increasingly virulent press to make up stories about the EU – unchallenged.

                                                                                                                     

And there was never anyone more adept at making things up and leaving the truth at home than Mr Cameron’s ex friends Mr Johnson and Mr Gove. Unbelievable as it may be, they are now running the country. David Cameron has lost far more than a couple of mates. No wonder he has his regrets.

                                                                                                                                                    

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

                                

  

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