British Gas may long since have been privatised but judging by recent remarks, the government raised billions by selling shares in British Gaslighting.
After the embarrassing defeat on Rwanda in the Supreme Court, immigration minister Robert Jenrick’s verdict was, “We have won on the most important question of all.” And earlier in the week, when the prime minister’s press secretary was asked if new foreign secretary David Cameron believed in Brexit, the reply was: “Yes, of course. We are making Brexit a success.”
No-one can be sure what attracted Cameron to this pig’s ear of an administration – is he really deluded enough to believe that he can save Rishi Sunak from defeat at the next election, or if he fails to stave off the inevitable, believe that he can once again become Tory leader?
But one thing is certain – the man who was the de facto leader of the Remain campaign in 2016 and who resigned as prime minister immediately after it lost, is not a Brexiteer.
“It’s becoming increasingly clear that the Leave campaign don’t have a plan and are preparing to take a leap in the dark,” Cameron wrote on June 5, 2016. Ten days later, almost a week away from the vote that seemed to have ended his career in frontline politics, he added: “Experts agree there will be a hole in our finances if we leave the EU. That will mean higher taxes, spending cuts, more borrowing or all three.”
Both of those comments have been vindicated by the mess of Brexit. And so, in the few months he has back in government, it will be fascinating to see what Cameron can do to perform a meaningful act of public service, patch up a corner of his tattered legacy and go some way to alleviating the mistakes of his four successors on a policy he never supported and must now know has utterly failed.
With the shrillest Brexiteer voices gone from the Cabinet room, will he dare to point out that there are pressing issues with Brussels to be sorted? The imposition of post-Brexit tariffs on British electric vehicles heading into the EU, due next year, is likely to lead to even higher prices for UK EVs – devastating an industry Sunak and Jeremy Hunt want to grow.
Far more serious when it comes to impact and optics is the impending imposition of post-Brexit import controls on EU goods, which is likely to lead to more empty shelves in UK supermarkets as European producers decide simply to bypass Britain altogether. These issues are not within Cameron’s control, but surely he will want to use his new influence to press on them?
He might even point out that the answer to Britain’s stubborn lack of growth lies in being out of the single market. There seems to be no chance of this government – or even the one Keir Starmer might form to replace it – rejoin that, yet as someone who does not instinctively mistrust Europe in the way many of his ideologue colleagues do, Cameron will surely want to push – even if gently – for closer alignment that suits British business.
But while the Tory right dreams up fantasy solutions to the Rwanda ruling, fulminates about leaving the European Court of Human Rights and plots to make the most rotten and divisive home secretary in living memory the next leader of the Conservatives, will Cameron even be allowed to do anything helpful at all?