Cameron bows out, urges close post-Brexit ties to EU

Cameron bows out, urges close post-Brexit ties to EU
July 13 20:09 2016

Outgoing British prime minister David Cameron on Wednesday urged
his successor Theresa May to maintain
close ties with the EU even while negotiating to leave it,
as he paid a fond farewell to MPs hours before leaving
office.
In his final question and answer session in the House of
Commons, Cameron said he would “miss the roar of the
crowd and the barbs from the opposition” that came
with the job over the past six years.

But, he pointed wistfully to the capricious winds of
politics that had abruptly ended his career, saying: “I
was the future once.”

The Conservative leader quit after Britain voted to leave
the European Union against his wishes.
But he had some final advice for May, his long-time
interior minister who was sitting beside him.

“My advice to my successor, who is a brilliant
negotiator, is that we should try to be as close to the
European Union as we can be, for the benefits of trade,
of co-operation and of security,” he said.

The 59-year-old May be the second woman to lead
Britain, following in the footsteps of fellow
Conservative, “Iron Lady” Margaret Thatcher.

The steely vicar’s daughter faces a daunting challenge
in trying to negotiate an amicable divorce from the EU
following the shock vote for Brexit on June 23.

EU leaders have said they expect May to move quickly,
and French President Francois Hollande, German
Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italy’s Prime Minister
Matteo Renzi announced they will hold a summit in
August on the vote.

May has indicated however that she will not be rushed
into triggering the formal procedure for Brexit.

She is expected to begin announcing her cabinet
choices before the day is out, including a Brexit
minister in charge of securing a new trade and travel
deal with the EU.

– Johnson among cabinet hopefuls -
Finance minister George Osborne, who fought
alongside Cameron to remain in the union, is expected
to lose his job, with May sharply critical of his legacy.
Women are expected to secure several top jobs, with
current energy minister, Amber Rudd and international
development minister Justine Greening tipped for lead
roles along with foreign minister Philip Hammond and
Brexit campaigner, Chris Grayling.

Friends of former London mayor, Boris Johnson told
The Telegraph newspaper he also hoped to play a
”significant role”, two weeks after he dramatically
withdrew from the race to succeed Cameron.

Investors will be watching May’s first days in office
closely but with greater optimism since the pound,
which fell by up to 15 percent against the dollar in the
days after the Brexit vote, rallied this week.

May campaigned as a safe pair of hands who will help
bridge Conservative Party divisions and restore
investor confidence in the face of a potential economic
downturn.

Her other mammoth challenges include keeping pro-EU
Scotland from bidding for independence in order to stay
in the 28-nation bloc, and weaving new trade and
diplomatic alliances beyond the EU.

– ‘I was the future once’ –

In a good-natured session of parliament, Cameron took
potshots at embattled Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn,
who faces a bitter leadership battle of his own.

On Wednesday, Owen Smith became the second Labour
MP to announce a bid to try to oust Corbyn, who is
resisting pressure to resign over his perceived
lacklustre campaigning for Britain’s continued EU
membership.

“We got on with it, we’ve had resignation, nomination,
competition and coronation — they haven’t even
decided what the rules are yet!” Cameron said.

He bowed out with a poignant line that he used a
decade ago against former Labour prime minister Tony
Blair.

“As I once said, I was the future once,” he said, before
walking out to a standing ovation of Tory MPs.

The referendum exposed deep inequalities in British
society, which May has vowed to address.
May, who campaigned half-heartedly for Britain to stay
in the EU, has said “Brexit means Brexit” and vowed to
”make a success of it.”

– ‘Knows her stuff’ –

A tough-talking interior minister for the past six years,
May is something of an unknown quantity
internationally, although she has received ringing
endorsements from party colleagues and a normally
sceptical British tabloid press.

The daughter of a Church of England pastor, May is a
cricket fan with a sober demeanour who lists her
hobbies as cooking and walking.

She is well liked in and around Maidenhead, the well-to-
do commuter town west of London that she has
represented in parliament since 1997.

Martin Trepte, editor of the Maidenhead Advertiser, the
local newspaper, said: “She’s a mature, grown-up, no-
nonsense politician. She knows her stuff.”

She shows a flash of flamboyance with a colourful
shoe collection — particularly her leopard-skin heels.