The EU referendum was intended to placate the Conservative Right in the run up to the last election and to persuade voters who had flirted with Nigel Farage that they should in fact stay committed to Cameron.
Was this calculation a victory of short term tactics over long term strategy? If the British people vote to leave the EU then that would absolutely be so. But even if there is a victory for Remain, this campaign has created a fissure between Cameron and the Eurosceptic wing of his party that could cause him to leave office much sooner than he had anticipated and heavily influence the outcome of any subsequent leadership race.
Cameron has identified himself so closely with the Remain side that this has alienated a significant proportion of the 140 or more Tory MPs backing leave. It is important to note that a number of these MPs have never warmed to the Cameron agenda but now that his Government spends £9 million on a pro Remain leaflet, he warns of World War III and his allies like George Osborne refer to Leavers as ‘economically illiterate’, there is a strong view that the leadership has been intemperate in their remarks whilst using the machinery of Government to influence the campaign. That is feeding a narrative among Leave Tories that this has not been a fair fight.
Only a year ago, David Cameron delivered a majority for the Conservative Party but now he faces the very real prospect of leaving office at a time of his MPs choosing rather than his. He spent most of his leadership trying to avoid ‘banging on about Europe’. The current campaign explains why.
By Lexington Communications