Hugo Rifkind Hugo Rifkind

Cameron and Mugabe: spot the difference

The Prime Minister is behaving with conciliation to the point of deference. Plus: MPs’ tax returns

It is not what Robert Mugabe would do. Calm down. These are ‘spiv Robert Mugabe antics’, said the Tory backbencher Nigel Evans, of the government’s alleged £9 million mailshot making the case for staying in the European Union. But no. They aren’t.

If David Cameron was behaving like Robert Mugabe, then he wouldn’t just be sending a leaflet to your house. He’d be sending a gang of thugs to your house, who all claimed to have fought in the second world war and yet had an average age of about 22, and then they’d come into your house and make you leave your house, and say it was their house. And Cameron would say, ‘Yes, it is their house,’ and the High Court would say ‘No it isn’t,’ and Cameron would either ignore the High Court altogetaher or call it a racist. I’m just saying. It’s important to get these things in perspective.

Given the farce of Greece, I daresay it would have been perfectly possible for Zimbabwe to have joined the EU and indeed the euro sometime around 2001, provided Goldman Sachs had been on hand to do the figures. A lucky escape for all of us. Had it, though, and were it now holding a referendum about whether it ought to leave, then I’m not sure that Robert Mugabe would have given his political opponents free rein to disagree with him while remaining in his cabinet. Rather, on past form, I suspect he might have massacred 20,000 of them and then spent 35 years denying it. Look, I don’t mean to go overboard, but I hope you’re getting the message. David Cameron on the EU: not as bad as Mugabe.

In fact, when it comes to the EU, Cameron is behaving with conciliation to the point of feeble deference, and it’s a measure of the sheer foaminess of his opponents that they’ve managed to convince themselves of the opposite.

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