John Redwood MP discusses David Cameron’s legacy.

I have read some harsh things about David Cameron’s period in office. My view is somewhat different to the negative commentaries I have read, and probably different to David’s own view of his place in history.

To me he deserves to be written about as the most important Prime Minister since the end of the 2nd World War. His brave decision to allow UK voters the choice on the EU has made a big difference to our political future. It has saved us from the troubled prospect of being alongside the Eurozone as it struggles to complete the political union it needs. It removes from us any responsibility to fund or bail out the troubled banks and regional economies of the Eurozone that are suffering from the present scheme. It means we do not have to keep on being the delayer, the negative influence on projects for more EU government. It will energise us by allowing new policies on trade, business, budgets, investment, foreign policy and the rest. It will mean a more global connected UK with better links and influences worldwide as an independent country again.

Until this June I always regarded Edward Heath as the most important post war Prime Minister. It was his strategic vision of the UK being part of the emerging European Union which settled so much of our country’s future. It led to our law codes and policies on everything from energy to transport, from agriculture to fishing, from trade policy to taxation and budgets being completely determined or substantially influenced by the EU. I watched as successive governments found they had to accept a growing body of EU law. I saw Parliament push through volumes of legislation which it could neither amend nor stop. Large areas of policy could no longer be debated with rival views in elections, as they were settled elsewhere.

David Cameron himself will say his greatest achievement was gay marriage. He will rightly remind people of the need for steadying influences to get over the big banking and economic crash of 2008-9. The Coalition he led did launch a major recovery in jobs and business prosperity which was much needed, and confirmed a more tolerant approach to differing lifestyles much encouraged by other political parties too.

However, these will be less remembered than the big event of the EU referendum. Why did he do it? I suspect because he himself was no committed believer in EU political integration. He had many Eurosceptic thoughts and moments. He never wanted us to join the Euro, the keystone of the project. He did veto the Fiscal Treaty for the UK. He did take the Conservative party out of the centre right federalist grouping in the European Parliament. He did try to get the UK back powers of self government. He had no wish to join Schengen and was frustrated we could not even decide our own benefit payments.

It is curious at the end he put so much effort in trying to win the referendum for Remain. He could have stayed above the fray and said he would implement the decision of the voters. He was popular in 2015 for offering a referendum. He could have said the renegotiation had not achieved all that he wished – as it clearly fell short – and that he would let the people decide.

It looks as if he was persuaded to be so strongly Remain and to back Project Fear by George Osborne and Peter Mandelson, who took a joint prominent role in the campaign. It was this choice that led to his resignation. I suspect history will be kinder to him, when over the years ahead we see just what opportunity freedom has given us. We may well also see that the EU’s ultimate destination is indeed one which a large majority of UK people do not want. The UK was in it for the trade, and that is what we have to grow and develop from outside.

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