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Tuesday, 14 June 2016

The coming referendum will become Cameron’s swan song – one way or the other. But who will gain from the emerging, political chaos in Britain?!

You had no more volunteers
So you got profiteers for to help you out
With friends like that babe
Good friends you had to do without

To these eyes PM David Cameron of the United Kingdom is what you could call a ‘just not’-politician:
  • Just not tough enough as a politician;
  • Just not convincing enough as the leader of his country and his Tory party;
  • Just not statesman-like enough to get his fellow European Council-members at his side in the negotiations about the British conditions for EU membership;
  • Just not elevated enough as a person to be freed from gossip and hearsay about small malversations and questionable tax tricks;
  • Just not honest enough to be totally trusted upon by the British population or by the European citizens;
  • Just not loyal and reliable enough to stand above the parties and keep the country together in these tough times of economic heartship and utter dividedness.

Nevertheless, since David Cameron became the prime minister of the United Kingdom in 2010, he ‘has managed to hang in there’. During his time at 10 Downing Street, he kept his nose clean enough to keep his job, in spite of a few minor incidents and scandals that really did not seem to hurt him much.

On top of that, there are few signals that the country could become subject to violent protests, on a scale that was normal in the turbulent years of his formidable predecessor, ‘Iron Lady’ Margaret Thatcher.

And during last year’s election [2015], Cameron even managed to get rid of his former coalition partner Nick Clegg of the Liberal Party. Since then the Tories have governed the country as a one party-government again, after having five coalition years with the Liberals. 

So all in all the current political situation for David Cameron seems not too bad to the uninformed eye.

Yet, there is only one circumstance that may and probably will end his political career at a blistering speed. That is the Brexit referendum, to be held in roughly one week on the 23rd of June, 2016. But why this referendum has become such a gamechanger?!  

As we all know, during his first stint as a Prime Minister Cameron felt a mounting pressure from his fellow Tories, as some of them were adamantly opposed against the European Union and they had the idea that the terms for the membership of the United Kingdom were unfair.

The pressure coming from these maverick Tory members slowly, but surely forced Cameron to organize a ‘plebiscite’ on the future of the United Kingdom, in its relation with the European Union. In 2013, roughly one-and-a-half year after the word ‘referendum’ had been mentioned first, it was a done deal. From that moment on, the rudder for Cameron's political career and – as a matter of fact – the future of his country was smashed out of his hands.

At first, the referendum – which would be organized in 2017 initially – seemed nothing more than a distant spot on the political horizon: nothing to worry about, as the moment of it was still far, far away in 2013. 

At that time, the promise of a referendum seemed first and foremost a warning signal aimed at the EU and an attempt to buy time and renegotiate the UK’s position in the European Union.

But the years passed by and Cameron’s attempts to renegotiate the position of his country turned into desperate longshots, instead of being realistic visions on a mutual, slightly altered future for the EU and the UK.

It was an impossible task: his demands and conditions for renegotiating the EU membership were simply too little for the Tories and the many disappointed citizens within the UK, but much too much for the European Council and the European Commission as a whole.

Under the pressure of the mounting immigration crisis and the enduring economic crisis in the Southern European Eurozone countries, Cameron demanded things from the EU that were violating the sheer foundations of the EU in some cases; foundations that the other EU members like France and Germany would never water down. From this situation the perfect stalemate emerged, in which the UK could not act anymore and the other EU members would not act either.

And so the referendum – to which Cameron fully owed his unexpectedly big victory after his re-election campaign in 2015 IMHO – turned into Damocles’ Sword for him. And now Cameron feels like a rabbit in the headlights of an approaching car: fascinated by what he sees, but totally clueless about what to do next.

From a non-event for anybody else than hardened political junkies and professional bawlers, the referendum has recently changed into the biggest political happening in decades for the United Kingdom and far beyond. And an event for which the outcome is utterly unpredictable.

While the referendum at first seemed to become a landslide victory for the ‘Bremainers’, the tides seem to be turning for those who advocate a Brexit. 

The latter group was in the beginning a mixture of UKIP populists, rightwing Tories, small-town nationalists and other eccentric people, but now the Brexit is becoming in fashion among a broader and more prominent group of normal citizens, politicians and renowned journalists.

Where the arguments of the Brexiteers and Bremainers inside and outside the UK (i.e. within the EU and the other European countries) were earlier a mixture of fearmongering, hyperboles and demonizing of the adversaries, the recent arguments seem to become more deliberate and more based on solid judgment of the situation at both ends. This turned the referendum into the 'talk of the town': not only for people at the far ends of the political spectrum, but also for the moderate people in the centre.

Currently the outcome is everybody’s guess... 

The bookies did not give one penny for the chances of the Brexit camp, only a few months ago, but now both sides become more and more balanced out and the momentum seems to be in the Brexit camp currently. Self-confident statements from renowned journalists in The Netherlands that the referendum would prove to be ‘little more than a storm in a teacup’ seem more and more implausible by the day. 

And PM David Cameron? The situation already went out of hand for him and is currently beyond his control. 

The reasons for this can be found in an earlier blog of mine about Cameron's ‘mega gamble’:

And so David Cameron – who is allegedly an advocate of the EU membership – is playing a massive gamble with the membership of the European Union. As that is how it will turn out for him: 
  • Gamble 1: Cameron gets what he wants from the EU and advices his citizens to stay in the EU. The Brittons follow his lead.
  • Gamble 2: Cameron does not get what he wants from the EU, but the British population wants to stay in the EU anyway.
  • Gamble 3: Cameron gets what he wants from the EU, but the population does not listen to him and votes in favour of a Brexit anyway.
  • Gamble 4: Cameron does not get what he wants from the EU and he successfully endorses a Brexit towards his population. 
This would lead to the following results:

In case of gamble 1: Cameron is the glorious winner of the gamble and he wins a set of privileges and concessions from the EU that is truly unprecedented, while maintaining the unity in the British Union.

This is the win-win situation for the United Kingdom, but an enormous loss of face for the EU and a definitive proof that the floodgates for political blackmail by other member states are wide open.

However, all other possibilities pose a losing situation for both PM David Cameron and the European Union as a whole.

Gamble 2: Britain votes against a Brexit, which would be ‘good’ for the EU, but Cameron has lost the last bit of credibility within and outside his country and the European Union as a whole. The only thing that he can do in this situation is resign, as nobody will take him seriously anymore. 

Gamble 3: In this case both Cameron and the EU suffer from severe loss of face. Cameron clearly loses his credibility and influence, as the Brittons blatantly do not listen to him and his advices anymore. He also can’t do anything else than resign, in this case. 
The EU on their end shows that political blackmail is a winning option and loses its face too in a very harmful way. 

Gamble 4: The EU does not lose face and so doesn’t Cameron. For the rest everybody is a loser in this situation, as a Brexit is then inevitable.

In other words: both gamble 3 and 4 have a Brexit as ultimate result. And please be aware of the following: the consequences might be severe for the UK!

Suffice it to say that gamble 1 has not played out at all. Even the most battle-hardened politician would not state that PM Cameron has returned home with ‘a winning list of priviliges and concessions’ from the EU. Camerons pathetic attempts to convince the English population and his peers in the Commons of this view anyway, were doomed to fail.

Even though Cameron still pleads for a ‘Bremain’, his words sound very hollow in the wake of his failure on accomplishing gamble 1.

Gamble 2 seemed like a dead-cert only a few months ago, but is turning into a long-shot with the Brexit and Bremain camp balancing out. For Cameron’s credibility it probably does not matter anymore.

Gamble 3 was just as dead as gamble 1 for the same reasons: Cameron did not get what he wanted at all, as the EU did not want to be blackmailed to the extent that Cameron desired.

Gamble 4 is the one that seems very plausible to play out, even if Cameron is not endorsing this gamble in the current situation.

This means that only gamble 2 and gamble 4 [actually a mixture between gamble 3 and gamble 4 – EL ] are remaining in play currently.

When gamble 2 does play out, this will still become the end of Cameron’s political career.

This is due to Cameron's lackluster defence of: 
  • at one hand the values of the EU against his fellow-MP’s;
  • and on the other hand the British values and convictions against the European Council members. 
Cameron will become a sitting duck for his adversaries all over Europe and in the UK, as he failed dramatically on both ends. Consequently, he will be gladly sacrificed by all politicians involved, even though the sigh of relief among the EU members can probably be heard on Waterloo Bridge, when this becomes the winning scenario indeed.

And this scenario will also become the end of Boris Johnson’s [the former mayor of London and the currently greatest political adversary of David Cameron – EL] political ambitions. As a matter of fact, it could lead to an implosion of the whole Tory party, as the raison d’etre of many members will have been blown to smithereens in a democratic referendum.

This might lead to new elections and a soaring popularity of UKIP, the Liberal Party and Labour, when disappointed Tories give up their membership and vote for other parties.

However, when gamble 4 plays out, Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage will be ready to collect the sweet fruits of their moral victory over Cameron. 

In this case Cameron will also be a sitting duck without any political credibility left. And Britain will be drawn into a (probably bitter) divorce from the EU after a quite long, but not very happy marriage.

So one way or the other, this period will probably become the swan song for David Cameron. And in my humble opinion, this is an appropriate fate for a politician who was simply ‘just not good, strong and honest enough’.  

Or in the words of Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits: ‘With friends like that babe... Good friends you had to do without. Oh and it never rains around here. It just comes pouring down’. 

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