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Antony Antoniou – Reform UK Northampton North
Prospective Parliamentary Candidate
(PPC) 2024 General Election

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David Cameron already making argument for closer ties with the EU

Reopening Old Wounds: Cameron Sparks Fresh Brexit Backlash

Just when it seemed hostilities over Brexit might finally be cooling, trust David Cameron to reignite the flames. In his first major political intervention since leaving office disgraced by the EU referendum result, the former Conservative Prime Minister has provoked outrage amongst Brexiteers by calling for closer UK ties with Brussels.

In an exclusive newspaper interview, Cameron argued that Britain now needs to work more harmoniously with the EU on foreign and defence policies. Describing the bloc as a “friend, neighbour and partner”, he effectively denounced the confrontational stance adopted by some Eurosceptic Tories. Predictably, his comments have gone down like a cup of cold sick amongst the most hardcore Leavers.

Cameron’s Dubious Return to the Limelight

Cameron’s demand for cooperation has principally been driven by a desire to salvage his own tattered reputation. Having failed to persuade voters to back Remain in 2016 and subsequently resigning as PM, he is now deeply unpopular with swathes of Conservatives who backed Brexit. This latest media appearance represents a blatant attempt to curry favour once more with his former EU allies and the pro-Brussels establishment.

The fierce backlash provoked demonstrates how the wounds from the polarising Brexit referendum remain raw for many Leavers. In their eyes, Cameron betrayed the Eurosceptic wing of his party by holding a vote he was confident would back Remain. The fact he then refused to implement the public’s will to Leave only compounds feelings of distrust toward his motives.

Hardline Tories Resist Closer EU Alignment

For ardent Brexiteers like Belinda de Lucy, formerly of Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party, Cameron’s call for cooperation is a smokescreen for gradually eroding British sovereignty. De Lucy argues that while Cameron claims shared policy interests justify partnerships in areas like Ukraine, his real goal is advancing personal ambitions on the global stage.

In her eyes, the UK must maintain clear red lines in dealings with Brussels. Providing any openings will allow EU figures to relentlessly push for further integration across trade, regulation and migration. This perspective reflects an underlying suspicion of EU motives that endures within sections of the Conservative right.

Managing Divisions in Rishi Sunak’s Cabinet

Cameron’s comments also create an unwelcome distraction for current PM Rishi Sunak as he attempts to unite his warring party and turn around dire polling. Sunak has already unnerved Eurosceptics by bringing arch-Remainer Greg Hands into cabinet as Trade Secretary. The emergence of Cameron’s call for alignment compounds fears that the government plans to edge closer to EU structures over time.

As political commentators note, Sunak can ill-afford to reopen the toxic Brexit divisions at this precarious moment. Hardline Leavers are likely to treat Cameron’s intervention as proof that senior Tories still dream of eventual EU reintegration. With the Conservatives trailing Labour heavily, such internal chaos seems politically suicidal.

Can the Conservatives Ever Overcome Brexit Divides?

The fury sparked by Cameron underlines the intense challenge facing Conservative leaders when it comes to reconciling party factions over Europe. Until they can finally settle the Brexit question, votes will continue seeping to nationalist rivals like Reform UK able to exploit the ongoing bitterness.

For now, most Tory Leavers seem unwilling to stomach any softening towards Brussels. With trust in EU motives severely depleted after years of acrimonious negotiations, pragmatists like Cameron face being ignored. The debate has become so ideologically charged that his reasonable call for cooperation is seen as treason by Eurosceptics.

Conclusion

• Former British PM David Cameron has controversially argued that the UK should seek closer ties with the EU on foreign policy and defence matters.

• Cameron says Britain needs to cooperate more with Brussels and has described the EU as a “friend, neighbour and partner”.
• His comments have sparked fury among pro-Brexit Conservatives who warn he risks reigniting bitter divisions.
• Cameron likely wants to rehabilitate his reputation after being damaged by Brexit vote.
• He specifically argues for alignment on security and defence policy due to shared European interests.
• Ardent Brexiteer Belinda de Lucy cautions EU will exploit openings to erode British sovereignty over time.
• De Lucy says Cameron is motivated by desire to please pro-EU friends and secure personal international acclaim.
• Cameron’s call risks inflaming tensions within the divided Conservative Party led by Rishi Sunak.
• Reopening Brexit rifts seems politically hazardous with Conservatives trailing heavily in polls.
• Cameron’s plea for cooperation faces being ignored as trust in EU severely depleted among Brexiteers.
• Until Conservatives resolve Brexit divides, they will keep losing votes to rival parties.
• For many Leavers, Cameron failed test posed by Brexit vote and can’t be redeemed.
• Cameron’s EU vision seems destined to widen Tory splits rather than healing Brexit rifts.

While elements of Cameron’s argument for UK-EU cooperation contain logic, the instant backlash it received highlights such visions remain fantasy whilst Conservative divisions persist. By blundering back into this political minefield, critics feel Cameron has only succeeded in widening splits within Tory ranks. Until they can heal enduring Brexit tensions, the Conservatives seem destined for the wilderness.

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