A look back at the premiership of Britain’s David Cameron
After failing to win an outright majority in Britain’s 2010 general election, David Cameron’s Conservative Party had an uneasy five years of coalition government with the Liberal Democrats.
Walking with his wife Samantha to the door of number 10 Downing Street, the new prime minister announced his intention to form the country’s first full coalition government since World War II.
As part of the deal, Cameron appointed Nick Clegg, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, to the role of deputy prime minister.
Just weeks before the two had been fiercely campaigning against each other and in an exchange at the pair’s first press conference together in Downing Street’s rose garden, a reporter mocked the change of heart from Cameron.
“Prime Minister, do you now regret when once asked what your biggest joke was, and you replied ‘Nick Clegg’ and deputy prime minister, what do you think of that?” the reporter asked.
The new prime minister and deputy prime minister both laughed it off, but the five years of coalition government wasn’t always so cordial.
The coalition clashed on austerity, as demonstrators took to the streets of London to protest against the deepest cuts to public spending for a generation.
In its June 2010 emergency budget, the government announced it intended to cut the budget deficit from nearly 11 percent of national output to 2.1 percent by 2015, a fiscal tightening of 113 billion pounds.
Cameron defended the plan throughout his tenure and was insistent that tough economic measures applied by his finance minister, George Osborne, had helped drive the UK economy from recession to growth during his premiership.
“We will not be able to build a sustainable recovery with long-term growth unless we fix this fundamental problem of excessive government spending and borrowing that undermines our whole economy,” he told reporters.
In what was a huge relief to Cameron who did not want to preside over the breakup of the UK, he played a part in persuading the Scots to vote against independence.
He helped lead the charge for the ultimately successful ‘No’ campaign, when with just a week to go until the vote, the polls seemed to suggest that Scotland’s electorate would vote in favour of independence.
In an impassioned speech at an event titled ‘Let’s stick together’ in Aberdeen, Cameron pleaded for Scotland to stay as part of the union.
“We want you to stay. Head, heart and soul, we want you to stay,” he said.
Foreign policy under the Cameron government included starting to withdraw British troops from Afghanistan, where the prime minister made frequent visits to Camp Bastion, the British base in the troubled Helmand Province.
British troops were also part of joint efforts with France and Libyan rebels to overthrow Colonel Gadaffi, along with a failed parliamentary vote supported by the Prime minister on undertaking military action in Syria to remove President Bashar al-Assad.
Cameron continued the ‘special relationship’ with the United States, proving to be a valuable ally of President Obama.
In one exchange, the U.S president even referred to Mr. Cameron as his ‘bro’, but relations with the French weren’t quite so cordial for the British prime minister.
Fallouts over British commitment to the E.U and reformed European treaties, meant French President Francois Hollande was only treated to an aircraft hangar and pub lunch on a state visit to Britain, whilst German Chancellor Angela Merkel received the red carpet treatment just weeks later in London.
In an attempt to win over Eurosceptics within his own party and to head off threats at the ballot box from Nigel Farage’s eurosceptic UKIP, Cameron pledged that if he won the election in 2015, he will hold a referendum on Britain’s E.U membership.
“We will give the British people a referendum with a very simple in or out choice to stay in the European Union on these new terms; or come out altogether. It will be an in-out referendum,” he said pledging to hold the vote before the end of 2017.
In May 2015 Cameron’s Conservative party defied all the pollsters predictions and were swept to power in a majority government.
Cameron could finally begin negotiating with the EU on reforms, in order to call a referendum.
It wasn’t until February 2016, after months of negotiations, that Cameron felt he had secured enough reforms of Britain’s relationship with the EU, that he could announce a referendum on June 23. He said his government would support the country’s continued membership.
Once again, the cabinet and the Conservative party were split on the issue, pitting some Tory heavy-hitters against their own prime minister.
In a blow to Cameron’s ‘Remain’ campaign, the charismatic then-London Mayor, Boris Johnson, announced he would be campaigning for a British exit of the EU, known as Brexit.
An intense and often bitter campaign followed, with the Remain side, driven by Cameron and Osborne, accused of conducting “Project Fear” with predictions of economic meltdown if Britain voted to the leave the EU.
Ultimately they were unsuccessful and on June 24, the result of the previous day’s referendum was announced.
48 percent voted to stay and 52 percent to leave.
Despite often pledging to carry on as prime minister even if he lost the referendum, on June 24 Cameron resigned.
“I will do everything I can as prime minister to steady the ship over the coming weeks and months but I do not think it would be right for me to try to be the captain that steers our country to its next destination,” he said.
But instead of a summer of campaigning by many Conservative contenders for leader, they fell one-by-one very quickly, leaving Home Secretary Theresa May the only one standing on Monday (July 11).
Cameron told the nation he would attend Prime Minister’s Questions in the Commons on Wednesday (July 13) before going to see the Queen to officially hand over the reins to May.
As Cameron walked back into Number 10 Downing Street, he was caught humming a ditty and exclaiming “Right!”, as he disappeared behind the famous black door.
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