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Cameron’s fullstop

Editorial |

David Cameron has taken the bow. Three months after Britain voted to step out of the European Union, the former Prime Minister has verily quit politics by announcing his resignation from parliament with “immediate effect”. Aside from the change of guard at Westminster, this must be reckoned to be the second major impact of the referendum on 23 June. The churning within the Conservative Party and the country&’s executive/legislative construct in the wider perspective are no less profound than the impending negotiations on executing the outcome of the vote. Unmistakable is the drift in Britain&’s political history even before the break with EU has formally been effected. Mr Cameron has informed his successor that he will cease to represent his constituency of Oxfordshire, and that Theresa May must now “look for someone who could concentrate on the area in central England”. The rupture with the institutions of governance is complete as must be his decision to put a fullstop to politics. Ergo, it would be no exaggerration to submit that the parting of ways with the EU has taken its toll in political terms, though it will be some time before the economic impact becomes palpable. “In my view with modern politics, with the circumstances of my resignation, it isn’t really possible to be a proper backbench MP as a former prime minister,” he has said in defence of his bold decision.

There are not many leaders in the world today who can be so forthright; many have been known to cling onto their legislative seats even after resigning as head of government. The fineprint is obvious — Mr Cameron would rather the new dispensation is more riveted to its dealings with Brussels instead of continuing the “distracting” discourse on the foibles of the “Remain” camp. The former PM, it would be useful to recall, had campaigned vigorously in favour of remaining in the EU bloc. Having had their way, Ms May and others of her ilk will now be expected to walk the talk without engaging in what Mr Cameron calls “a big diversion”. His resignation from the Commons, to which he was re-elected in 2015, is an oblique admission of the fact that his position became untenable after losing the EU vote. The announcement was unexpected; having resigned as PM in the immediate aftermath of the referendum, he has now graciously accepted the rejection of his spirited campaign plank to remain in Europe.

To scotch speculation, he has denied that he quit in response to Ms May&’s school reform agenda, notably to let state-funded schools reintroduce selection by academic ability, a controversial move he had opposed during his six years in office. Be that as it may, it is a difficult legacy that he has bequeathed.