Politics is an ugly game, and few who play it are self-reflective. So memoirs by leading politicians almost always disappoint. Even when they avoid outright lies, most mislead by omission, revealing little backroom maneuvering and evading personal responsibility for errors. This book is no exception: the former British prime minister, aware that history will remember him primarily for his disastrous choice to hold the ill-fated Brexit referendum, offers a retrospective self-justification. Throughout, he claims, unconvincingly, that his hands were tied. The referendum was inescapable because the eu had mistreated the United Kingdom and because sincerely Euroskeptical British citizens deserved to have their voices heard. Cameron denies that he was ever pressured by parliamentary backbenchers to hold the Brexit vote. The victory of the Leave campaign, he claims, was at once impossible to predict and inevitable, due to the lack of the EU’s willingness to reform; the perfidy of the then recently departed mayor of London, Boris Johnson; and the dynamics of modern media campaigns. Cameron comes across as a sincere and decent fellow severely lacking in the Machiavellian foresight, ruthlessness, and savvy required for political success.
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