On 24th November, Ivan Rogers gave a lecture at Hertford College, Oxford on David Cameron, having worked as Permanent Representative of the UK to the European Union while Cameron was Prime Minister. The talk was part of a Prospect/Hertford series on PMs since Margaret Thatcher and their relationships with the continent.
Rogers warns of the Brexit challenges ahead: “All we shall see, at very best, on UK-EU trade in 2018 is a political agreement on ambit, not legal texts.”
I want, in this lecture, to attempt a serious examination of David Cameron’s approach to the question which has bedevilled British politics for two generations.
And, in so doing, to attempt to gain some distance from the political soap opera accounts and from the post referendum hysteria on all sides, and to offer an account of the issues and the politics with which Cameron was grappling, and some insights as to why he took the positions and decisions he did.
There is much that I cannot possibly cover in a single lecture. I am not going to offer thoughts on why the Eurosceptic wing of the Conservative Party grew, radicalised, and I think markedly changed its focus. Nor try and analyse the public vote in June 2016. Nor go much outside the economic policy arena. Nor will I address the referendum campaign.