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The 5 Worst Parts Of David Cameron’s Legacy

Brits see him as arrogant and out to lunch, despite a few policy wins.

13/07/2016 9:52 PM IST | Updated 13/07/2016 9:52 PM IST
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British Prime Minister David Cameron headed to Buckingham Palace on Wednesday to tender his resignation to Queen Elizabeth II, ushering in a new era in British politics with current Home Secretary Theresa May at the helm. 

Cameron, who presided at 10 Downing St. for six years and has been the head of the U.K.’s Conservative Party since 2005, exits his post with a pockmarked legacy.

A few policy wins, including the national legalization of same-sex marriage, haven’t been enough for people to change their view of Cameron as elitist and out of touch.

Here’s a cheat sheet:

1. His affluent upbringing

Born to wealthy parents and educated at some of Britain’s most venerated institutions, Eton College and Oxford, Cameron is viewed by some as overly relaxed and primarily interested in the prestige that comes with being in charge.

“Long after he became prime minister, the impression persisted that he was more interested in holding the office than in using its power to achieve anything in particular,” former Conservative Party Treasurer Michael Ashcroft wrote last year in Call Me Dave, an unauthorized biography of Cameron that contained searing (and disputed) allegations about the outgoing prime minister.

The most egregious of them: Ashcroft claims that Cameron had “sexual relations” with a dead pig as part of an initiation ritual to an Oxford club. 

2. Brexit

Cameron’s “political headstone will carry only a single epitaph: the man who took Britain out of Europe,” a Guardian editorial said earlier this week.

Cameron is the one who actually promised Britain a referendum on its membership to the European Union in 2013.

He then repeatedly vocalized his opposition to leaving the EU. The move backfired when, a few weeks ago, the U.K. voted to leave. 

The vote has sent Britain spinning into uncertainty. Stock markets have plummeted. The pound’s value has further tumbled. Hate crimes against immigrants and people of color have skyrocketed

3. Scotland

“There have only been three national referendums in British history,” The Daily Beast’s Nico Hines wrote last month. “Cameron has now overseen two of them.”

Scotland held its first referendum on independence in 2014. The Scots ultimately voted to remain part of the U.K., but it symbolized a test for Cameron and his ability to unify.

Scotland is now threatening to hold another independence vote. Cameron warned, pre-Brexit, that Scotland’s departure would fuel greater instability across the U.K.

4. The economy

Cameron attempted an economic rebound when he came into power after the global recession, but his austerity measures have proven unpopular. Many Brits resent the government’s cuts to social programs. Borrowing has also risen and the gap between rich and poor has widened

5. His foreign policy, aka the “shit show” doctrine

The U.K. helped lead the charge in ousting the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Since then, Libya has plunged into anarchy, a situation that European governments have done little to ameliorate.

Libya’s makeshift government has been incapable of fending off the militant group that calls itself the Islamic State, which has in recent months infiltrated the country.

Cameron has had to defend his actions in Libya against mounting criticism. President Barack Obama even complained that Cameron was “distracted” and part of the reason why the country is now a “shit show.”

Cameron’s government allegedly had been planning to send more troops to Libya.

As noted above, Cameron’s tenure hasn’t been all bad. His government did oversee the opening of 31 new free schools, and same-sex marriage became legal in England and Wales in 2014.

But all eyes are now on May, the incoming prime minister, who Brits hope can bring together a divided Conservative Party and navigate the country’s post-EU future, while also determining its role on the international stage in an era of increased terror threats.

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