David Cameron has handled the offshore tax avoidance thing very badly, I think we can now declare. So badly, in fact, that we should now discuss the idea that it has threatened the future of his premiership. A lot of people out there, particularly on the left or centre-left of politics, would love to see Cameron being forced to resign, particularly over an issue like avoiding tax. But I’d like to take the time now to point out some basic things to these folks.
Cameron resigning will not be the end of Tory government. They will still be as dominant as they are now in British politics, and Jeremy Corbyn will still be the leader of the opposition. Cameron being gone will change none of that. And the new Tory prime minister, whomever it is in the end, is likely to be a lot worse than Cameron at his lowest.
If Cameron resigns in the very near future, there are essentially four possibilities for who takes over as PM. One, Osborne; two, Boris; three, Gove; four, a right-wing backbencher from out of the blue. It doesn’t take long to figure out that all of these options are worse from any sort of left of centre position than having Cameron lead the country. The most likely one is Boris given that Osborne represents Cameron continuity (at a time when that will have been discredited within Tory circles) and the other two are long shots (Gove is far from sure to even run). Given that, I would ask people who are left of centre to seriously think about Boris as London mayor and then project that onto the entire country. You can just about treat being mayor as a sinecure, particularly if both times you got elected you were up against a chavist strike-lover who runs off at the mouth about Marxist nonsense on a continuous basis. You can’t do that while in Number 10 – but we may just get treated to the awful chance of seeing Boris Johnson give it a try.
That’s before we get into the EU referendum. There is a fear that Cameron’s scandal will translate into a gain for the Leave side of the debate by trying to turn the June poll into a plebiscite on the prime minister. Whatever you think about David Cameron – and how the whole reason this referendum is taking place in the first place is his fault, and that if it causes his downfall then schadenfreude spring forth – if you want the UK to remain in the European Union, Cameron being dragged into the mud right this second isn’t great for that cause. Particularly when Corbyn looks like he can’t be arsed with the whole ordeal.
Imagining a situation in which the right of the Conservative Party has control of the leadership (and thus the premiership) while Corbyn looks immovable as leader of the opposition due to the utopian fantasies of the Labour membership is absolutely terrifying – and yet, it is also increasingly likely. Ponder that when you call for Cameron Out.