James Forsyth James Forsyth

Despite winning a majority, Cameron will be remembered for how he handles Europe

At 6.30pm on election-day, the Cameron invited their guests out into the garden for a drink. It was a very English occasion. Everyone was in their coats, huddled on the patio trying to pretend it was 10 degrees hotter than it actually was as they sipped their glass of wine.

The mood was, understandably, nervous. The prospect of defeat was on everyone’s mind. David Cameron even read out his resignation speech to the assembled gathering. I’m told that the reaction as he did so showed that many of those present feared he would be doing it for real in less than 24 hours time.

Now, obviously, things turned out very differently. But, I argue in the column this week, this experience of almost being history has influenced how Cameron has approached the job since returning to Number 10. It is striking how Downing Street, admittedly shorn of the need to act as a coalition reconciliation service, is now far more focused on actually getting things done than before.

But, I suspect, that how Cameron is remembered will be largely defined by how he handles the European renegotiation, both domestically and diplomatically. If he can prevent the Tories from splitting over the issue, he’ll be remembered as the man who ushered in a return to Tory majority politics. But if he can’t do this, then he’ll go down as the man who couldn’t stop the Tories from splitting over Europe.

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