Cameron, David William Duncan

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Cameron, David William Duncan

David William Duncan Cameron (kăm´ərən), 1966–, British political leader, b. London. Educated at Eton and Oxford, he worked for the Conservative party's research department beginning in 1988, became an adviser to two high-ranking government ministers, and headed corporate communications (1994–2001) for a media company. After an unsuccessful campaign for Parliament in 1997, he won a seat as a Conservative in 2001 and advanced rapidly in the party as a protégé of party leader Michael Howard, becoming shadow education secretary in 2005. Seen as a youthful modernizer, he was elected (Dec., 2005) to succeed the resigning Howard as party leader. Cameron worked to transform the Conservatives into a less ideological, more centrist party, and in the 2010 parliamentary elections the party secured a plurality. Forming (2010–15) a coalition government with the Liberal Democrats, Cameron became prime minister, becoming the youngest person to hold the office since the early 1800s. Despite tensions in the coalition, it successfully enacted health-care, education, pensions, and welfare changes; significant cuts also were made in public spending in response to the recession that resulted from the world financial crisis. In 2012 his government agreed to a Scottish referendum (2014) on independence in which voters chose to stay in the union. In 2015 Cameron led the Conservatives to a narrow majority in Parliament, having pledged in 2013 to hold a referendum on whether Britain would remain in the European Union to counter right-wing criticism of his policies. He subsequently sought, with minor success, to renegotiate aspects of Britain's relationship with the EU before he called the referendum in 2016, but unhappiness with his leadership and the economy and anxiety over immigration undermined support for the EU and led to a 52% vote for exiting the EU. In the wake of the vote, Cameron resigned as prime minister and party leader, and later in the year he resigned his seat. Theresa May succeeded him as party leader and prime minister.

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