Premiership of David Cameron

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Cameron, 2013

The premiership of David Cameron began on 11 May 2010 when Cameron accepted the Queen's invitation to form a government. This occurred upon the resignation of Cameron's predecessor as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Gordon Brown. While serving as Prime Minister, Cameron also served as First Lord of the Treasury, Minister for the Civil Service and Leader of the Conservative Party.

After the 2010 general election, Cameron became Prime Minister at the head of a coalition government between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats, as no party had gained an overall majority in the House of Commons. As one of his first moves Cameron appointed Nick Clegg, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, as Deputy Prime Minister. Between them, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats controlled 363 seats in the House of Commons, with a majority of 76 seats.[1]

After the 2015 general election, Cameron remained Prime Minister, this time at the head of a Conservative-only government with a majority of 12 seats.[2]

Following the vote by the British public to leave the European Union in a 2016 referendum, Cameron resigned his position in a televised speech on the morning of 24 June 2016. The Prime Minister, who had campaigned against the referendum, said that he had informed the Queen of his decision before going to the public. Speaking outside of 10 Downing Street, he remarked that "fresh leadership" needed to come in, stating that he would hold his position until the Tory conference to be held in October.[3] He officially resigned as Prime Minister on 13 July 2016, following the unopposed victory of Theresa May in the leadership election on 11 July.

First term (2010–15)[edit]

Further information: First Cameron ministry

At the 2010 general election on 6 May, the Conservative Party achieved its highest number of seats since the 1992 election, returning 306 MPs. However, it was still 20 seats short of an overall majority, resulting in the nation's first hung parliament since February 1974.[4] Talks between Cameron and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg led to a coalition of the two parties, enabling the Queen to invite Cameron to form a government and become prime minister.

Entering government[edit]

Cameron is seen in front of Uthayan newspaper office which has been attacked several times and a number of its staff have been murdered.

Cameron and his wife Samantha Cameron were driven from Buckingham Palace, arriving at Downing Street on 11 May. Cameron paid tribute to the outgoing Labour government and his predecessor Gordon Brown.[5] He went on to describe the "difficult decisions" to reach "better times ahead".[6] Cameron met with his party's MPs on 11 May, whose cheers of jubilation were heard from the central hall of the Commons.[7] It is likely that he then explained the details of any coalition agreements made between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats.[8]

Cameron made his first official visits as prime minister in May. He first visited Scotland and met with the First Minister Alex Salmond,[9] followed by Wales to meet with the First Minister Carwyn Jones, and Northern Ireland to meet with the First Minister Peter Robinson. His first trip to a foreign country was on 20 May to France where he met with the French President Nicolas Sarkozy.[10] He visited Germany on 21 May where he held talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel.[11]

Cabinet appointments[edit]

A press conference on the new cabinet took place on 12 May 2010. Soon after Cameron took office, it was confirmed that the Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg, would be appointed to the semi-official role of Deputy Prime Minister,[12] while George Osborne would become the Chancellor of the Exchequer.[13] Later it was confirmed that William Hague had assumed the post of Foreign Secretary[14] and the new Home Secretary would be Theresa May. Cameron's cabinet included Clegg and four other Liberal Democrats: Danny Alexander, Vince Cable, Chris Huhne, and David Laws.

Policy[edit]

Economic issues and programme for austerity[edit]

The economy was a priority in the continuing wake of late-2000s financial crisis and the consequent increasing government debt when Cameron came into office, with the topic being of much concern in British public opinion. The government announced a policy, later called 'Plan A', of eliminating the structural deficit and ensuring that the debt-to-GDP ratio started falling by the end of the parliament in 2015.[15][16] To facilitate this goal, the Office for Budget Responsibility and a government-wide spending review were created.[17] While several government agencies have enacted spending decreases, funding policies for the National Health Service and for overseas development have been exempt.[18]

In February 2013, the UK lost its AAA credit rating, the retention of which the government had indicated to be a priority when coming to power, for the first time since 1978.[19] By 2015 the annual deficit had been cut by about half, (the initial target was to get it to zero), so the debt-to-GDP ratio was still rising.[20]

Specifically, Cameron's first term in office, enacting changes from 2010 to 2014, involved about £100 billion of cuts in government expenditures. In terms of economic growth, the figures that came in were generally below expectations at first, but nationwide growth picked up to an annual rate of 3% by the end of 2014, indicating a mixed picture as many of the new job positions being created have featured relatively low wages. Cameron's administration has also pursued a policy of tax increases; however, the bulk of the deficit reduction that has occurred, more than 80% of the total, has been related to spending cuts.[18]

In 2014, Cameron stated that the austerity programme would continue into the next parliament with further cuts to be decided after the election.[18]

NHS reforms[edit]

Further information: Health and Social Care Act 2012

The Health and Social Care Bill was the most deep-rooted and extensive reworking of the structure of the National Health Service ever undertaken.[21] The bill had implications for all health organisations in the NHS, not least for NHS primary care trusts (PCTs) and Strategic Health Authorities (SHAs) which were by Clinical commissioning groups principally run by local GPs.

The bill was one of the government's most controversial proposals, and in April 2011 the government announced a "listening exercise" postponing further action on the bill. The controversy arose in part because the proposals were not discussed during the 2010 general election campaign and were not contained in the May 2010 Conservative–Liberal Democrat coalition agreement.[21] Two months after the election, a white paper outlined what The Daily Telegraph called the "biggest revolution in the NHS since its foundation".[22]

Arms sales[edit]

During the throes of the Arab Spring, for which he had voiced support, Cameron spent three days touring undemocratic Gulf states with eight of Britain's leading defence manufacturers.[23] In response to the ensuing criticism, Cameron issued a three-point defence.[24] Early in 2012, Cameron again visited the Middle East to "broaden and deepen" business ties with Saudi Arabia[25] – Britain's leading arms export market – even after Amnesty International had several weeks earlier accused the Saudi government of unleashing a wave of repression against the repressed minority-Shia population in the east of the country, and even as Saudi troops added to the list of Shia protesters they had shot dead.[26][27][28] The week before his Saudi visit, the Committees on Arms Export Controls published questions it had asked the Coalition regarding arms sales to Saudi Arabia, in particular querying why, when there was unrest in the country in 2011, licences for a range of equipment had not been revoked.[25]

In 2014, after Israel's Operation Protective Edge, Cameron's government came under pressure to place an arms embargo on Israel.[29] Vince Cable, whose department was ultimately responsible for such matters, issued a threat to suspend 12 export licences if violence escalated again.[30] The threat was dismissed in Israel, and was described by one leading Israeli journalist as simply "an attempt at gesture politics to local voters".[31]

Syria[edit]

Foreign Office minister overseeing Syria policy 2010–13, Alistair Burt, meeting with the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces

The government was critical of Bashar al-Assad's government in the 2011 Syrian uprisings stating it had "forfeited the right to lead" by "miring itself in the blood of innocent people", and backed the rebels. On 24 February 2012, the government recognised the Syrian National Council as a "legitimate representative" of the country.[32] On 20 November 2012, the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces was recognised as the "sole legitimate representative" of the Syrian people, and a credible alternative to the Syrian government.[33]

On 21 August 2013, immediately following a chemical-weapons attack at Ghouta, Cameron urged U.S. President Barack Obama to respond with a military intervention.[34] However a motion to participate in military strikes against the Syrian government was defeated in parliament on 29 August 2013. This was the first time that a British government was blocked from taking a military action by parliament.[35] After the vote Cameron said:

I strongly believe in the need for a tough response to the use of chemical weapons but I also believe in respecting the will of this House of Commons ... It is clear to me that the British Parliament, reflecting the views of the British people, does not want to see British military action. I get that and the Government will act accordingly.[36]

Ultimately a negotiated agreement was reached to eliminate Syria's chemical weapons.

The Islamic State[edit]

Retired General Richard Shirreff said that Cameron's "flaccid" response to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant would embolden Putin's moves in the Ukraine.[37]

Referendum on Scottish independence[edit]

A victory by the Scottish National Party in the 2011 Scottish general election raised the prospect of the Scottish Government holding an independence referendum within the following five years. Though the constitution is reserved to Westminster, the SNP planned to get round that by holding a referendum to seek a mandate to negotiate for independence.[38] In October 2012 Cameron said that the campaign to keep Scotland within the United Kingdom was a priority for the government.[39]

Delayed payment of EU dues[edit]

In November 2014 Cameron stated that the UK would not pay its EU dues.[40] George Osborne later claimed victory on the dispute, noting that the UK wouldn't have to pay additional interest on the payments, which would be delayed until after Britain's 7 May 2015 general election.[41]

Transport[edit]

Subsidy per rail passenger journey for the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy and France
Subsidy per rail passenger journey for the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy and France

After the 2010 General Election, the new Conservative-led Coalition continued Labour's policies on rail transport largely unaltered after a pause to review the finances, keeping the privatised system in place. There was continuing support for the High Speed 2 scheme and further developing plans for the route. Whilst initially showing scepticism towards the electrification of the Great Western route, they later gave the project its backing and work began formally in 2012. Crossrail and the upgrade to Thameslink are due for opening in 2018.

The Government has moved towards allowing more competition on the intercity network through open access operators. In 2015 it approved a service run by Alliance Rail to operate between London and Blackpool, and both Alliance and FirstGroup have applied to run open access services on the East Coast Main Line.[42][43]

In January 2015, Cameron said "We've made sure that rail fares cannot go up by more than inflation. So the rail fare increase this year, as last year, is linked to inflation, and I think that's right. In previous years it's gone up by more than inflation. But, of course, what you're seeing on our railways is a £38bn investment project. And that money is coming, of course, from taxpayers, from the government, and from farepayers as well." He said Britain was seeing "the biggest investment in our roads since the 1970s, but in our railways since Victorian times".[44]

Scandals[edit]

  • In November 2011 Home Secretary Theresa May came under heavy criticism for presiding over a scheme weakening UK border controls, and allowing potential terrorists into the country unchecked.[45] Some of the blame also fell on (now former) Head of the UK border force Brodie Clark, whom May claimed went beyond his remit.[45]
  • Lib Dem Business Secretary Vince Cable was removed from a quasi-judicial role in deciding whether BSkyB should be allowed to takeover control of Sky, after being accused of bias against News Corporation, the company which owns BSkyB.[46]

News of the World phone hacking scandal[edit]

Cameron's close relationship with senior figures of News International came under increasing scrutiny as the controversy of the News of the World phone hacking scandal grew.[47] A close friend of Rebekah Brooks, Cameron had also hired Andy Coulson as his communications director before Coulson was implicated in, and later arrested for his role in, the phone hacking. Cameron, who had spent his Christmas with Brooks,[48] was accused by Ed Miliband of being "out of step with public opinion" and lacking leadership on the matter due to his "close relationships" with News International.[49] The scandal was further aggravated by the announcement he had ridden Rebekah Brooks horse on loan from the Metropolitan Police, and the implicit involvement of Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt, whom had been handed jurisdiction over Rupert Murdoch's BSkyB bid after Vince Cable's supposed expression of bias, in passing confidential information to the Murdoch empire regarding the bid's progress[50] Right-leaning political commentator Peter Oborne argued that it was no longer possible to assert that Cameron was "grounded with a decent set of values" after a "succession of chronic personal misjudgements", equating the scandal with Tony Blair's decision to go to war in Iraq as a turning point in his premiership, and calling for him to distance himself from Brooks.[51]

Second term (2015–16)[edit]

Further information: Second Cameron ministry

Following the 2015 general election, Cameron remained prime minister, this time at the head of a Conservative-only government with a majority of 12 seats.[52] Having gained seats from Labour and the Liberal Democrats, Cameron was able to form a government without a coalition partner, resulting in the first Conservative-only cabinet since 1997.[53][54]

2015 Summer Budget[edit]

Following the election victory Chancellor George Osborne announced that there would be a second 2015 budget on 8 July. The main announcements[55] included:

  • A "National Living Wage" for those over 25, of £9/hour by 2020.
  • The tax-free personal allowance for Income Tax was raised to £11,000 from £10,600
  • Defence spending was protected at 2% of GDP for the duration of the Parliament
  • Welfare reform, including lowering the benefits cap to £20,000 for those outside London and limiting child tax credit to the first two children
  • An increase in the inheritance tax threshold, meaning that a married couple will be able to pass on £1million tax-free
  • A reduction in the amount individuals earning over £150,000 could pay into their pension tax-free
  • An increase in free childcare from 15 hours/week to 30 hours/week for working families with 3 and 4 year olds
  • An £800 increase in the amount of maintenance loan paid out to poorer students, paid for by replacing maintenance grants with loans
  • Measures to introduce tax incentives for large corporations to create apprenticeships, aiming for 3 million new apprenticeships by 2020

Referendum on the European Union[edit]

Cameron announcing his resignation as Prime Minister in the wake of the UK vote on EU membership.

In his 2015 election manifesto, David Cameron pledged to hold a referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union sometime before 2017 at the latest. Following extensive negotiations between Cameron and other European leaders, the referendum took place on 23 June 2016;.[56][57] The British public voted to leave the European Union.[58][59][60] He then promptly resigned in a televised speech aired across the nation's airwaves. His resignation was originally not to be made official until October at the party conference, leaving Mr Cameron in charge until then and a leadership election being triggered within the conservative party. However, following the withdrawal of the only remaining candidate, Andrea Leadsom, Theresa May was left unopposed annulling the leadership contest. Cameron subsequently resigned with May's premiership taking effect Wednesday 13 July 2016.[61] His departure comes in spite of the fact that 82 MPs had signed a letter in favour of Mr Cameron remaining Prime Minister before the referendum. David Cameron said he was no longer the "Captain" capable of steering the country in its new direction. Both Michael Gove (Justice Secretary) and Chris Grayling publicly paid tribute to Mr Cameron's leadership.[62]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Lyall, Sarah (25 June 2014). "Britain's Improbable New Leaders Promise Big Changes". The New York Times. 
  2. ^ "Election 2015 – Results". BBC News. Retrieved 10 May 2015. 
  3. ^ "Brexit: David Cameron to quit after UK votes to leave EU". BBC News. 24 June 2016. Retrieved 24 June 2016. 
  4. ^ "Election 2010 results". BBC News. 7 May 2010. Retrieved 13 May 2010. 
  5. ^ "David Cameron's Speech on the steps of 10 Downing St". BBC News. 11 May 2010. Retrieved 11 May 2010. 
  6. ^ His speech is available on Wikiquote at his page.
  7. ^ "Loud Cheers come from Committee Room during Tory MP Meeting". BBC TV News. BBC. 11 May 2010. 
  8. ^ "Guardian Live Blog detailing Plans to meet MP's at Commons". Guardian Live Election Blog. Guardian Newspaper. 11 May 2010. Retrieved 11 May 2010. 
  9. ^ "Cameron calls for Scots 'respect'". BBC News. 2010-05-14. Retrieved 2016-07-23. 
  10. ^ "Cameron defends staying out of euro as he meets Sarkozy". BBC News. 2010-05-20. Retrieved 2016-07-23. 
  11. ^ "Cameron wants strong EU role but will not yield powers". BBC News. 2010-05-21. Retrieved 2016-07-23. 
  12. ^ "David Cameron and Nick Clegg pledge 'united' coalition". BBC News. 12 May 2010. Retrieved 13 May 2010. 
  13. ^ "George Osborne to become Chancellor of the Exchequer". BBC News 24 Ticker. BBC. 11 May 2010. 
  14. ^ "William Hague to become Foreign Secretary". BBC News 24 Ticker. BBC. 11 May 2010. 
  15. ^ Nicholas Watt (21 November 2011). "David Cameron acknowledges problems with reducing national debt". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 May 2015. 
  16. ^ Emma Rowley (12 June 2011). "UK economy 'Plan A' – Is George Osborne on the right path?". The Sunday Telegraph. Retrieved 12 June 2011. 
  17. ^ Martin Wolf (10 June 2010). "A question for chancellor Osborne". Financial Times. Retrieved 10 June 2011. 
  18. ^ a b c Elliott, Larry (10 November 2014). "David Cameron warns of more cuts". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 May 2015. 
  19. ^ "UK's credit rating cut humiliating, Labour says". BBC News. 23 February 2013. Retrieved 3 November 2014. 
  20. ^ Asa Bennett (26 March 2015). "National debt, the deficit and cuts: where does each party stand in General Election 2015?". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2 May 2015. 
  21. ^ a b British Medical Journal, 2011; 342:d408, Dr Lansley’s Monster
  22. ^ Andrew Porter (9 July 2010). "Biggest revolution in the NHS for 60 years". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2 May 2015. 
  23. ^ Nicholas Watt; Robert Booth (21 February 2011). "David Cameron's Cairo visit overshadowed by defence tour". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 June 2011. 
  24. ^ Nicholas Watt (22 February 2011). "David Cameron hits out at critics of Britain's arms trade". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 June 2011. 
  25. ^ a b "David Cameron in talks with Saudi king". BBC News. 13 January 2012. Retrieved 23 January 2012. 
  26. ^ "Saudi Arabia rejects Amnesty repression claims". BBC News. 1 December 2012. Retrieved 23 January 2012. 
  27. ^ Bill Law (14 December 2011). "Saudi crackdown takes on sectarian character". BBC News. Retrieved 23 January 2012. 
  28. ^ "Shia protester 'shot dead' in Saudi Arabia". BBC News. 13 January 2012. Retrieved 23 January 2012. 
  29. ^ Wintour, Patrick (6 August 2014). "Impose arms embargo on Israel, says Andrew Mitchell". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 August 2014. 
  30. ^ Bennett, Asa (12 August 2014). "Vince Cable Condemned Over 'Very Weak' Threat To Suspend Arms Sales To Israel". The Huffington Post UK. Retrieved 17 August 2014. 
  31. ^ Pfeffer, Anshel (13 August 2014). "Arms embargoes had little effect on Israel in the past". Haaretz. Retrieved 17 August 2014. 
  32. ^ "UK boosts Syria opposition ties, William Hague reveals". BBC. 24 February 2012. 
  33. ^ "Syria conflict: UK recognises opposition, says William Hague". BBC. 20 November 2012. Retrieved 1 January 2014. 
  34. ^ David Blair (8 September 2013). "Syria: Hague says lack of military action would be 'alarming'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 1 January 2014. 
  35. ^ Robert Winnett (29 August 2013). "Syria crisis: No to war, blow to Cameron". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 1 January 2014. 
  36. ^ "Key quotes: Syria debate". BBC. 30 August 2013. Retrieved 2 August 2014. 
  37. ^ Farmer, Ben (31 August 2014). "Top general blasts Cameron's weakness on Putin and Islamic State". The Telegraph. Retrieved 31 August 2014. 
  38. ^ Severin Carrell (8 May 2011). "Scottish independence: Cameron gives green light to referendum". The Observer. Retrieved 2 August 2014. 
  39. ^ Settle, Michael; Dinwoodie, Robbie (9 October 2012). "PM: Saving Union is my No 1 priority". The Herald. Glasgow. Retrieved 9 October 2012. 
  40. ^ Traynor, Ian; Syal, Rajeev (24 October 2014). "David Cameron refuses to pay £1.7bn EU bill by 1 December deadline". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 October 2014. 
  41. ^ CASERT, RAF (7 November 2014). "Britain Claims Victory in EU Bill Standoff". ABC News. Associated Press. Retrieved 10 November 2014. 
  42. ^ "London – Blackpool open access service approved". 
  43. ^ "ORR to decide on Alliance Rail open access application this summer". 
  44. ^ "David Cameron defends rail fare rises amid concerns over rip-off Britain". 
  45. ^ a b "Theresa May plays blame game on UK border controls". The Week. Retrieved 19 August 2012. 
  46. ^ "Taking Vince Cable off the BSkyB case". Retrieved 19 August 2012. 
  47. ^ Singleton, David (8 July 2011). "News of the World Closure does not let Cameron off the Hook". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2011-07-08. 
  48. ^ Watt, Nicholas; Sabbagh, Dan (20 January 2011). "David Cameron met Rebekah Brooks after Vince Cable lost BSkyB power". The Guardian. Retrieved 2011-07-08. /
  49. ^ Mulholland, Hélène (7 July 2011). "Miliband questions Cameron's 'close relationships' with News International". The Guardian. Retrieved 2011-07-08. 
  50. ^ "The BSkyB takeover emails". BBC. 25 April 2012. 
  51. ^ Oborne, Peter (6 July 2011). "David Cameron is in the sewer because of his News International friends". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2011-07-08. 
  52. ^ "Election results: Conservatives win majority". BBC News. Retrieved 2015-06-04. 
  53. ^ correspondent, Nicholas Watt Chief political. "David Cameron unveils first Tory-only cabinet in 18 years". The Guardian. Retrieved 2015-06-04. 
  54. ^ "Election 2015: Who's Who in David Cameron's new cabinet". BBC News. Retrieved 2015-06-04. 
  55. ^ "Summer Budget 2015: key announcements". 
  56. ^ "European Union Referendum Bill (HC Bill 2)". Parliament of the United Kingdom. 2015-05-28. Retrieved 2015-06-12. 
  57. ^ Rowena Mason; Nicholas Watt; Ian Traynor; Jennifer Rankin (20 February 2016). "EU referendum to take place on 23 June, David Cameron confirms | Politics". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 February 2016. 
  58. ^ Erlanger, Steven (2016-06-23). "Britain Votes to Leave E.U., Stunning the World". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-06-24. 
  59. ^ Goodman, Peter S. (2016-06-23). "Turbulence and Uncertainty for the Market After 'Brexit'". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-06-24. 
  60. ^ "EU referendum results live: Brexit wins as Britain votes to leave European Union". Retrieved 2016-06-24. 
  61. ^ "David Cameron says being PM 'the greatest honour' in final Downing Street speech". BBC News. 2016-07-13. Retrieved 2016-07-23. 
  62. ^ BBC Radio 4 PM programme Friday 24 June 2016

Further reading[edit]

  • Lee, Simon; Beech, Matt (2011). The Cameron-Clegg Government: Coalition Politics in an Age of Austerity. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-0230296442. 
  • Heppell, Timothy; Seawright, David (2012). Cameron and the Conservatives: The Transition to Coalition Government. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-0230314108. 
  • Hazell, Robert; Yong, Ben (2012). The Politics of Coalition: How the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Government Works. Hart Publishing. ISBN 978-1849463102. 
  • Jokela, Juha,

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Brown
British Premierships
2010–2016
Succeeded by
May