David Cameron

Conservative Party

David Cameron

We must take everyone through with us on some of the difficult decisions we have ahead. Above all it will be a government that is built on some clear values. Values of freedom, values of fairness, and values of responsibility.

Conservative Party

May 2010 - July 2016

11 May 2010 - 13 Jul 2016

Key Facts

Tenure dates

11 May 2010 - 13 Jul 2016

Length of tenure

6 years, 63 days


Conservative Party


Samantha Sheffield


9 Oct 1966

Birth place

Marylebone, London, England

About David Cameron

David Cameron formed the first Coalition government in Britain since the Second World War. His government oversaw a policy of austerity and public sector reform. Cameron legislated for referendums over the Alternative Vote, Scottish Independence, and Britain’s membership of the European Union. He resigned when the country voted to leave the European Union.

David Cameron was born into a wealthy family in southern England. He attended Eton College and Oxford University. During the 1990s, he worked in the Conservative Party as a Special Adviser to Chancellor Norman Lamont. After that, he worked in media communications until he was elected as MP for Witney in 2001.

Cameron was more moderate, younger, and, unlike many other senior Conservatives, had not been a member of the 1979-97 governments. As such, he presented a new image of the party. Within three years, he’d been promoted to the Conservative front bench as head of policy coordination. With the Conservatives defeated again in 2005, Cameron stood to be leader of the party, and, after a confident speech at the party conference, defeated his rivals.

As Leader of the Opposition, Cameron commissioned a policy review, embraced greener policies, and told the party to ‘stop banging on about Europe’. In late 2007, after Gordon Brown became Prime Minister, Cameron dared Brown to call an election in another assured conference speech. No election happened that autumn. The Conservatives soon had a healthy lead over Labour, winning subsequent local elections and the 2009 European elections.

In the 2010 election, Cameron’s Conservatives won over 100 seats, becoming the biggest party in Parliament, but failed to win a majority. Cameron made a ‘big, comprehensive offer’ to the Liberal Democrats (Lib Dems) to go into coalition. Five days of negotiations followed as both the Conservatives and Labour courted the Lib Dems. Ultimately, a Conservative-Lib Dem coalition was formed, the first full coalition since the Second World War.

The government that followed was defined by its signature economic policy of austerity in response to the 2008 global financial crisis. There was also reform of education, healthcare, and welfare. Cameron’s government oversaw referendums on the Alternative Vote in 2011 and Scottish independence in 2014.

By 2015, economic indicators were rising and the economy was showing signs of recovery. That year, Cameron won an unexpected election victory, securing a narrow majority. This allowed him to implement his policy of a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union, which took place in June 2016. Cameron campaigned for Remain, but ultimately the country voted Leave. He resigned in the aftermath of the referendum, arguing that it was time for new leadership.

Key Events


Cameron’s 2010-15 government was the first Coalition government since the Second World War. Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg became the Deputy Prime Minister and several Lib Dems became Cabinet ministers, exerting a considerable influence on the government’s policies.

British Prime Minister David Cameron at a press conference in Berlin.
MAY 29, 2015 – BERLIN: British Prime Minister David Cameron at a press conference after a meeting with the German Chancellor in the Federal Chancellery in Berlin. Photo by 360ber/Depositphotos.com

The government was defined by the financial strategy of austerity as a response to the 2008 Financial Crisis. Spending was cut heavily from 2010 as a means of reducing the deficit and over 500,000 public sector employees were made redundant. Meanwhile, measures were taken to boost the economy, such as cutting corporation tax.

The government also embarked on education, healthcare, and constitutional reform. A referendum on the AV system of voting took place in the spring of 2011 and was heavily rejected by the electorate. A social programme called ‘The Big Society’ was also one of the government’s key themes.

Over the summer of 2011, the government faced several unexpected events. An outbreak of rioting in England was, eventually, met by a firm response. There was also a longstanding scandal over newspaper impropriety, which damaged the government because one of Cameron’s key advisers, Andy Coulson, had been involved.

Over 2012, the tensions with the Lib Dems increased. The Conservatives had maintained a robust popularity, but the Lib Dems were extremely unpopular. They had failed to achieve victory in the AV referendum and had u-turned on their signature policy on university tuition fees. In response to the failure of Lib Dem supported Lords reform in 2012, Clegg effectively vetoed changes on parliamentary boundary reform that Cameron had backed. A ‘Mid Term Review’ of the government was commissioned as the coalition reviewed its achievements and plotted a route forward. Ultimately, the coalition endured.

Relations with the European Union were an important theme of the Cameron government. In 2011, Cameron vetoed a European fiscal treaty.  In early 2013, responding to a defeat in the Commons and pressure from the Conservative backbenches, Cameron promised that, should he win the 2015 election, he would legislate for a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union. In 2014, Cameron tried to prevent the appointment of Jean Claude-Juncker as European Commission President, arguing that there was no democratic mandate, but ultimately, he was overruled by the European Council.

Internationally, Cameron’s government supported military intervention in Libya in 2011, but was prevented by Parliament from intervention in Syria in 2013.  Cameron played an important role in the international response to Russia’s invasion of Crimea in Ukraine in 2014. In late 2014, Cameron also ordered the armed forces to support the US and Arab countries in their fight against the breakaway ISIS parastate in the Middle East. British combat forces withdrew from the war in Afghanistan in 2014. The aid budget was increased to the UN target of 0.7%.

In 2012, Cameron announced his support for allowing same sex marriages. In 2013, with his backing, Parliament voted to allow same sex marriages, and the first ones occurred in 2014.

Cameron’s government also negotiated and legislated for a Scottish independence referendum after the Scottish National Party won the Scottish elections in 2011. The referendum took place in 2014, and saw independence rejected by 55%-45%.

By 2014, the economy was showing signs of recovery, though critics argued that it was not strong enough. Before the 2015 election, Pollsters predicted another hung Parliament. Cameron’s campaign highlighted the economy, while a ground level operation ruthlessly targeted Lib Dem seats. On election night, it became clear that the strategy had worked. The Lib Dems collapsed, Labour lost seats, and Cameron won the election with a majority of 12.

Cameron’s 2015-16 ministry was largely concerned with renegotiating Britain’s terms in the European Union. Over November – January, Cameron engaged with European leaders, flying around the continent constructing a new deal. This was finalised in February 2016 and Cameron announced the deal to Cabinet, which soon divided on remain or leave lines.

Additionally, Cameron also extended Britain’s war against ISIS in November 2015, after the group conducted a large terrorist attack on Paris.

Over May to June 2016, Cameron campaigned for a Remain vote in the European Union referendum. He emphasised economic security and argued that Britain was ‘Stronger In’. However, in the early hours of 24 June 2016, as the referendum result became clear, Cameron decided that he could no longer continue as Prime Minister. He announced his resignation that morning, saying ‘I don’t think it would be right for me to try to be the captain that steers our country to its next destination.’

Though he expected to remain Prime Minister for several months more, the Conservative leadership contest of 2016 in fact concluded rapidly, and Cameron left power in July 2016.

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