My recollection was, although I can not find quotes to prove it, that Cameron always insisted that he, as Prime Minister would be bound by the results of the referendum, which in turn meant that the government would also be bound to accept and follow the will of the people, even if from a purely legal, point of view the referendum result was only advisory and Parliamentary approval would still be required for Brexit.
So what did Cameron do immediately he knew that he had lost, he resigned. This ensured that his successor would be left with a completely free hand in deciding whether to accept or ignore the will of the people.
Strangely his was not the only resignation. Within days they had all gone, the leading Brexiteers, the Borises and the Nigels. To any outside observer the mass flight of those who had led the fight for freedom from the EU, must have looked not only strange but highly suspicious. This was what one would have expected had they been trounced but they had won. So what was going on ? The establishment was “going on” and it was doing so determinedly.
Candidate after candidate came forward to fight for leadership of the Tory party and automatically become the next Prime Minister. And what happened to them. One by one they resigned and for politicians, they resigned for the most peculiar of reasons. One suddenly realised he had a family, others suddenly discovered that Teresa May would be far better at the job than they would. Theresa May thus became Prime Minister by default. Unapproved by either people, Parliament or her own party, she became in effect our first dictator since Cromwell, at least for the length of this Parliament, if she can last that long
Her first action was taken in true dictatorial style. She actually got away with changing the referendum question in the hope that nobody would notice. Joseph Stalin would have been proud of her. The question on which the people had voted could not have been simpler – Does The UK stay in the EU or leave ? That was far too simple for May, so she changed it, after the event and gave one of the finest illustrations since Magna Carta as to how fragile and illusory our democracy can be.
With a population of over 60 million to choose from she hot footed it up to Edinburgh and consulted just one person, Nicola Sturgeon, the one person out of 60 million whom May knew could be gauranteed to give the answer she wanted. Sturgeon did not let her down.
It was immediately announced that there would be no Brexit without the approval of the leader of the Scottish Parliament. The fact that this was not what Scotland or any other part of the UK had been asked to vote on, was completely irrelevant to our new Prime Minster who had cynically started her premiership with the declaration that “Brexit means Brexit”. By fabricating a new and utterly dishonest scenario, she had found a way of ensuring that the British Parliament no longer had the final say over Article 50. Brexit was therefore doomed for ever. No wonder Merkel is now telling May to take her time.
The UK will pay a huge price for this political chicanery and it may take 100 years before the truth is officially revealed as to who stage managed the whole sorry story and the trampling underfoot of our democratic traditions. But there is also a present price to pay and that is an economic one. Uncertainty is one of the worst enemies of economic confidence and success. Industrialists and business leaders, are already bemoaning the uncertainty which now surrounds the future of the UK. and the economic effects which that political uncertainty is beginning to create.
The will of the people! Those were the days – or was it all an illusion.