Neville Chamberlain died in November 1940, just six months after the bankruptcy of his policy of appeasement towards Hitler had forced his resignation as prime minister. This was unlucky because he did not live long enough to write a memoir trying to justify himself. This was lucky because he was not around to hear himself being pilloried as one of the most calamitous leaders in British history.
David Cameron, who was an ex-PM at the young age of 49, is doomed to be remembered as a Chamberlain-class prime minister and fated to know it. Now and for ever more, he will be defined by the one epic misjudgment that terminated his time at Number 10 and hurled his country into the vortex of chaos in which it is still trapped more than three years later. In the unlikely event that Brexit ultimately proves to be a brilliant idea, he will not be able to claim any credit for an enterprise that he opposed. In the rather more likely event that leaving the EU proves to be the gravest error in Britain’s modern history, he will rightly shoulder a vast weight of the blame. And in the event that Brexit is reversed, Cameron will be remembered as the man who put his country through years of polarising trauma for no purpose.
“Brexit is the giant, dark cumulonimbus that squats over the pages of this long memoir from its first sentence. You can sense that the author dreaded arriving at the chapters where he would have to explain himself, for the earlier ones are bulked up with some stodgy padding that could have benefited from more ruthless editing. In the build-up to the breaking of the storm that sweeps away his career, the tone is largely sunny … He tends to the bland when discussing other leaders, but there are a few tangy titbits … The book’s voice is not as humble as the interviews he has given to promote it. There are lengthy tracts of self-justification as he relitigates every controversy of his career before almost invariably coming to the conclusion: ‘I was right’ … the memoir oozes bitterness from the still weeping wounds of a man who feels betrayed … Cameron says he knows ‘I failed.’ This memoir doesn’t convince me that he fully grasps why.”Sod the season of goodwill and luxuriate in The Most Scathing Reviews of 2019. That at least is my advice this morning. See Exhibit A above.