« Freakonomics Radio

392. The Prime Minister Who Cried Brexit

2019-10-10 | 🔗

In 2016, David Cameron held a referendum on whether the U.K. should stay in the European Union. A longtime Euroskeptic, he nevertheless led the Remain campaign. So what did Cameron really want? We ask him that and much more — including why he left office as soon as his side lost and what he’d do differently if given another chance. (Hint: not much.)

This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
This podcast dynamically inserts audio advertisements of varying lengths for each download. As a result, the transcription time indexes may be inaccurate.
Friggin amongst radio sponsored by progressive insurance were customers save an average of more than seven hundred fifty dollars when they switch in save visit, progressive dot com to get your car insurance quote, it only takes about seven. National annual average auto insurance savings by new customers surveyed in twenty nineteen potential savings will very, if you'd like to listen to for economics, radio without ads the place to do that is sticker premium five dollars, and you can get a free month trial by going to stick your premium dot com and use a promo code freak. You also get access to all our bonus. Episodes and you'll be supporting our show to that sticker premium. Dot, com, promo code, freak thanks You know these research shows that happy endings are really powerful, that even a bad experience like going to the dentist or having a colony. Ask me if the last couple minutes is somehow made more play
people remember the entire term as being not so bad. It strikes me that you got that exactly backwards with your political career, but obviously, as this uncertainty continues there will be those who say. Will you made a promise about having a referendum? You kept that promise, and that is a credit, but nobody knows you say didn't about a referendum, but once followed- and I set my share responsibility for the situation we face looked at some stage, This will be resolved. We will either leave with a deal, and people will see so certain path for Britain, on the outside of the EU, but with a partnership with it. That, I believe, will be very close. All who knows maybe we're gonna get so stock. We have to General actual a referendum. That might mean indifferent. One way or the other. This uncertainty has to come to an end It's gone already for too long and either I, for one per wavered width today on freedom.
Radio, the man who many people believed to be singularly responsible for breaks it David Cameron, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. He explains why he called for the referendum effectively ended his political career and he explains the other stressful parts of being. Prime Minister, it is very intensive. renews noisy, pretty terrify we get into relationships with Barack Obama, Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin. I find in the end. I just couldn't trust what he was saying. This? From? A man who it turns out loves American Football S, but if a cheese head actually but not, alas, american cheese, I think it's one of the very few weaknesses of your great country, David Cameron, has just written one of the most candid political memoirs and recent memory. It's called for the record
discipline I put myself was thinking. What did you think then? What do you think now? What decisions do you think right want decisions. Do you think you got wrong and all memoirs Tsar exercises and self justification I accept that has quite a lot of self justification in the book. When I tried to be honest about things that could have gone well could have gone better, I'm happy friends stature and that no productions, this desperate economic radio broadcasts and explores the inside of everything. Here's your home Stephen Dubner. on June, twenty third, two thousand sixteen voters in the United Kingdom- that's England,
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland were asked to vote on a referendum put forward by Prime Minister David Cameron and his conservative party. It asked a simple: Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union, the European Union nor EU being an economic and political consortium of twenty eight member states. The outcome of this bricks. It vote, as you likely know, has been anything but simple, a couple foundational facts. keep in mind. Cameron was a long time euro sceptic believing that the? U K, contributed, more to the EU than it got back, but he also said he didn't want the UK to actually leave Other he wanted to negotiate with the EU better terms on trade, regulation, immigration and so on. So even though it was Cameron who put forth the breaks at referendum
he led the campaign for the UK to remain in the EU not to leave. The vote was widely expected to go. His way. Then it didn't an extraordinary moment in british history. The british people have spoken and the answer is we're out. The vote was fifty two to forty eight percent in favour of leaving the immediate economic and political consequences tonight, a grave and the future deeply onset. Those who voted to leave were thrill. we ve got our Godfrey by those who wish to remain younger voters, especially in those concentrated in London, Scotland, in Northern Ireland. They blamed David Cameron. After all, who calls for a referendum campaigns against it and then loses as weird is that was it in he got weirder Cameron had promised to stay on as prime minister. Whatever the votes outcome, I will do everything I
as Prime Minister to steady the ship overlooked, but then I did, but I do not think it would be right for me to try to be the captain. The stairs our country to its destination. His resignation had the whiff of noble intentions, but it wasn't received that way it was received, as if Cameron were a party guest who'd knocked over a tower champagne glasses and then ran for the door. He was replaced as Prime Minister Teresa. May his home secretary. She began trying to negotiate a sensible exit from the European Union, but no country had ever done that before and as it turns out the eyes to the right to hundred and two, the nose to the left? Four hundred and thirty, It was difficult complicated. It is that the house does not support this deal, but tonight's boat tells us nothing about what it does support. You can't say we're leaving the single market because in June,
the European Union, we're gonna do our own free trade agreements across the world, and by the way you have to allow us seeing this access into your market to. Why would the EU ever facilitates the government has lost control of events and is in plate disarray. The government had lost control of events and, ultimately, Teresa may lost control of the conservative party. She had spent three years trying to come up with a workable breakfast strategy and failed. This past July may was replaced as prime minister by Boris Johnson, her former foreign minister, and before that, the mayor of London, a few found nor facts to know about Boris Johnson, he and David Cameron are long time. Friend armies made gone to the same schools eaten in Oxford. They ran in the same political circles and they seem to irritate and smiled at each other in equal measure If any other politician anywhere in the world stuck on. Is it why we veto disasters? The borders will be enough.
I am pleased to see that you, you ve called me a blonde, add more in the pages Weimar. They then you during the referendum campaign, Johnson, unlike Cameron, was in favour of written leaving. Although, as Cameron writes about Johnson in his book. He seemed to have done almost no thinking about what sort of referendum when it should be held or what the government's view should be given Boris, Johnson's reputation for up with more vigour than rigour. This may well be true, and yet it is now Johnson's job to extricate the UK from the European Union. The deadline twice delayed is currently set for October. Thirty, four there may be a soft exit from the EU with trade and borders.
and other details agreed upon in advance, or there may be a hard breaks it with a complete separation from the EU or the equivalent of an acrimonious divorce either way Johnson is determined to leave gone, getting a deal. We will leave by October, the thirty first. In all circumstances there will be no further pointless dinner. It's been very messy, even messier that I've made out to be. There was Boris Johnson's, unlawful suspension of parliament investigations into the camp in finances for the leave campaign. Rumours of russian interference in the referendum vote, all of which have produced a deep reservoir of uncertainty for the big question What happens next? Nobody knows what's next people just
but decision are we leaving aura we staying, but let's just get on with it, because the uncertainty is now killing the economy. One of the few Constance, since the vote has been resentment towards the man who put the bricks it trigger think holding this on and then vanished women It is in Europe in Nace would be structures up where we stick Asia, but last week David Cameron was in New York City. Thank you grant beer over the years. He spent a fair amount of time in the states I love coming here is the only place where your politics is almost as crazy as our policy, for the moment, the difference being that, at least in the UK, you can watch one television channel and find out roughly what's going on here. If I watch Fox, I think the presidency in Britain. If I weren't CNN, either he's about to go to prison. So I've read what you ve written. I've heard what you said heard what everyone else's said: people are
so angry at you in some quarters. Well, you got, I mean the fifty two percent of people who voted to leave the EU. People are pleased. We had a referendum are pleased that their voice Scott across there are many also on the remain side. My side of the argument who lost, who accept that a referendum was inevitable or accept that a referendum was mandated by parliament. I mean nine out of ten members of parliament did at, to have a referendum, but I sat there are some people who will forgive me holding a referendum. They didn't think it was a good idea of yours, my side of the argument lost. So how did you come to this? How did a relatively popular prime minister who seem to be doing a relatively good job of studying his country after the global financial crisis? How did he produced such a calamity?.
be fair. There were a number of contributing factors, as will here today, economic pressures within the UK. What the UK saw as intransigence within the EU even a faraway civil war, but it would be wrong to understate the role of David Cameron himself. He I presented a new breed of political leadership in the UK, especially in the conservative wing. He was younger unusual and more chipper, with an optimistic bent and an embrace of what's come to be called compassionate conservatism, sober on the fiscal front, but open minded on social issues like gay marriage and eager to address climate change on many issues, If he lived in America he could easily be mistaken for a centrist Democrat. Well, that's what a bomber
used to say to me, but I used to say: please: Cameron is a political animal, as one must be to thrive in british politics. How does he rate as a thinker it's hard to say he was well bred, well reared, well educated and he married well to peace. Tall. Quite handsome is lovely manners, knowing what we know about cognitive biases, It's easy to see why he may also be perceived as brilliant or at least very clever. There's a test. anecdote in his memoirs when Cameron is being interviewed by three quote badly dressed and dishevelled dawns as part of the university admissions process. I still shiver at the memory he they were asking in which philosophers he'd red turned out, the answer was not many. The three men he recalls were trying to work out whether you are just the product of a good education or genuinely bright. They were pretty convinced that
I was the former Cameron became. The Minister of the United Kingdom in two thousand ten, his conservative party hadn't one clear majority in the elections, so it had to form a coalition government with the liberal Democrats, not a natural fit at least ideologically but a workable one, and it was the UK's first coalition government since one thousand nine hundred and forty five. That said, it was not the best time to come to power. The global financial crisis was still deepening casting long shadows in every direction Well, Britain, we aren't you had the biggest when here we are NEO City, where you are very effective, but actually the biggest bank bailout was the role Bank of Scotland in Britain. I think the longest and deepest procession was hours because all financial sector so big, so we ass, we were very affected and I inherited a breed of what situation so talk then generally for people who don't follow it at all
You had to consider austerity and you enacted. Some austerity also want to do a lot of reform in the rail of education, crime, fighting streamlining the national health service, but about whether, in retrospect, you feel that the reforms and cuts were sufficient? There were good outcomes some dimensions? You got the unemployment rate way way down, but wage stagnation is still a big problem and then debt is still very, very high. Yes, I did. The fundamental point is that when I became prime Minister, the the deficit forecast was for an eleven percent budget deficit which would have given us the biggest budget deficit in the world and by the time I left office cut, that by two thirds, so we still had a deficit, but it was in a well under control, and now it's been virtually rabbit. The ratio debt to GDP is still relatively very high. It is I, but it would be a lot if we'd carried on with a ten or eleven percent budget deficit- and I tried to explain in the book- is pretty dry stuff your debt to GDP
ratio but to me as a fundamental thing about political responsibility. If you allow the debt to GDP ratio to get up towards, hundred percent there's no capacity left when the next crisis hit and I don't believe we abolish boom Lastly, the borders, the trade cycle. I know they'll be another crisis at some. Agent. You gotta have the capacity to deal with it, but we knew that you couldn't stand aside as financially. chickens went to the wall, will learn the lesson of the nineteen thirties, which was you know you. You must recognise the money nature of the crisis, but we were very concerned that the budget deficit was out of control that we had to have a programme to bring it back, Can we fought the election? Very rare for a party to fight but actual basin we're going to cut spending and we're gonna have to put up some taxes and have to make some difficult decisions, but that game Soda Window permission to take these difficult step, we should say: but one measure that you improved a lot on which in this country we have not improved on, is income inequality. Yes, I am not saying
Even Turley avoided the sort of Peggotty thesis what's gone wrong in America with stagnant wages of the bottom, but we saw a huge job growth and then we we also so probably cuz, of the changes you made any quality that she went down rather than up. We did protect the poorest in the number of different ways for his. We froze probably expect to pay, but we emitted from freeze the very lowest paid we cut taxes for the lowest paid, so we're sitting here in twenty nineteen. Let's pretend you are still p m. You would have been you'd be a year away from the end of your second term and let's pretended breaks, it had never happened, always won. The referendum was both or you'd one referenda right. Do you think that your administration would be seen as largely successful? I think if we had won the referendum, I mean if you go back twenty fourteen, we were the fastest growing,
tree in the g7, we had a very good relationship oversee with yourselves the special relationship, but we also had very good partnerships with near with China. We had been ranked the second group. This government in the world. I think we ve been rank the most open in terms of information and we were very transforming govern terms. digital and online services, the rest, but I'm not saying we were perfect. Of course, there are lots of problems to deal with some reforms that didn't go right, name a few. Why think the health reforms less successful, I love our national service. I a great believer in free healthcare, but I think our reforms would too much about changing the bureaucracy. Roy
then really focusing on the problems of modern health service faces, which is actually the costs of looking after the elderly, the CASA people with multiple health conditions and the sort of divide we haven't Britain between health care, which is free and social care which some is means tested. So I think that lot virus we could add on better, but it was, I would argue, if you d breaks at one cipher, second, it was a successful government, economically and in terms of reform. So it is hard to leave Rex it once I have, obviously because it came to dominate the conversation, the way ISIS, and I may be totally wrong. Is that you and your administration were making significant progress in renegotiations with the Eu
immigration and regulations and the power of national governments. But you felt you weren't making enough progress and therefore it seemed like a good idea to propose a referendum to create more leverage for further renegotiation while, however, are hoping and thinking that the referendum would fail. Because then you went out and campaigned for the remaining side. That's the calculus! That, for me, is difficult to understand the It was this that I knew we needed reform of all position in Europe. Because of this problem of the changes in the eurozone, I was hoping that. A more general treaty change was coming down the track and to me the referendum in the renegotiation went together. You wouldn't get much worse
negotiations without a referendum, and I wouldn't want a referendum on its own, because you just be saying you want in or out on the status quo. I want to improve on the status quo, so these things did go together and are now. I think the reforms we achieved, which were carving Britain out of ever closer union. So for the first time the EU is ignored. not that we were going to the same destination but in a slightly slow away, but actually we had a different destination in mind to the rest of Europe hugely important. We also fully protected the pound sterling as our currency, recognising that you know the euro is the currency of eighteen of the twenty eight members, but it wasn't for everybody. I always wondered what England would have been like head. You accepted the euro. Will, I think, if I leave which, on the euro, I got a feeling. The whole project might have come come badly unstuck by now, oh badly, unstuck, meaning what, if you go back as important chapter in the
about when I worked in the Treasury is an adviser when we're in the exchange rate mechanism which ultimately failed, and that was what one of these taught me. We should stay out of this. There are times when economies need different interest rates, different economic policies and the poor the Euro is easily stated. Here we are in the United States. You got a single currency called the dollar. If taxes has a bad year, it gets more in federal spending. It pays lesson. Tax is not Texas ever does have a bad here. Of course, we don't have those fiscal offsets in the european you. I have always believed that the Euro area is problematic because you your creating a currency, but without single banking system. Without a fiscal union without offsets to deal with ourselves into her announced able had Britain joined it, which are they I have been a disaster for us. I think it probably would have been a disaster for the euros was the original sin. In your view, in terms of the UK having
the EU itself. No, I believe that Europe is our biggest market and are neighbours and friends in our relationship with the with the French in terms of Italians and others is very, very close, and I have always believed that is close today, as it was a couple years ago. Nobody don't undressed who made the the sense of partnership in the shed and EVA that there is and that that will be even when we leave the EU. If we we do so, we will be the closest friend, neighbor Impala, so I've always believed for Britain is in our interest to be round the table with the other members of the EU, making sure that the rules of the market, which is our biggest market suit and making sure that, as we deal with Russia, or as we do with IRAN, that we have the leverage of working together and in many cases trying to lead I've always loved that bit of Europe. What I've not light is the sort of pretensions
Lord Statehood, that the EU has always loved the fire and the parliament and all the rest of his own, like many british primary this house always sort of battling to stay in the bits that we like, but to try and carve aside a special place well, it doesn't seem so strange to me that lesser countries would want to feel that sentiment with a bigger union because you already have it. While I think this I think it does. Does that aspect, I think if you are a small european country, you feel sometimes your power in haunts, because your sat round the table and often sitting around the table, you notice that rhetoric since for multiple Cyprus or whatever you know they their loving it because they have. He has around the big table ideas that aspect of it, but there is another aspect which is, of course, the UK hey, we ve always seen are nationhood as part of the secret source of our success, and, if you, you know
Acta. Such a crucial moment in british history is bay. Nineteen, forty, when the rest of Europe had fallen on Britain was standing alone against Nazi Germany in a white, it's important to our culture, This is not only a fantastic thing that we did on behalf of humanity, but it was It was something on nation did so we ve not Siena Nationhood as a source of trouble. All strive for difficulty was seen as a part of our success at that this vote out of the two one common critique of David Cameron. Is it he called for the bricks it referendum. cause. He want to settle the so called Europe question once and for all to get it out of the way, so he could spend his second term as Prime Minister on other priorities. He'd been re elected in two thousand fourteen to a second five year term:
going into that election. One poll showed that only eight percent of british voters listed Europe as one of the most pressing issues, although that answer doesn't take into account concerns about immigration, which did feed the appetite for a brexit vote. so too did Cameron's austerity policies and public spending cuts for his part, Cameron was adamant that Abreks it referendum was just a matter of time. After all, Euro scepticism has keep tendrils in the? U K going well beyond the conservative party. Yes, of course, of the thing I like remind people is that sometimes I do The quiz: can you name a british political part didn't support. A referee answer is there is neither is one between two thousand and five and two thousand and fifty and the Labour Party. The liberal, because everybody, the Green Party, they all one stage, one other soap, what is a referendum on Europe? So was it's not just that the conservatives were interested in this issue? It was an issue running through budget post.
Cameron's own euro scepticism dates all the way back to his youthful admiration of Margaret Thatcher, the budget conscious, former conservative prime minister, although as Cameron rights in a typical case of his habit, both way ism quote, I had always felt myself more of a Thatcher IST then thatcherite at Oxford, Cameron studied P, p, philosophy, politics and economics, the gold standard, B for Britain's political elite. He went straight into politics and wound up serving under chancellor of the Exchequer, Norman Lamont in the Treasury department, just in time to see the Mont forced to pull the flailing british pound out of the European Exchange rate mechanism. That as Cameron noted earlier. That was what one of these tools we should stay out of the year it, but it was once and had been prime minister for a year and a half that he experienced, perhaps his sharpest bout of euro scepticism
It happened during the so called Euro Zone crisis. Several weaker Eu Economies- Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Cyprus had massive debt swords. bailouts and the value of the Euro was dropping, so it fell to the richer countries. Like the UK to step up, there was a proposed treaty change to address the crisis. David Cameron vetoed it, I did vote, then they went ahead into the treaty anyway. European treaty changes were supposed to be unanimously approved in this case as a work around the EU instead established in a cord. Not was the moment. It seems to me that Britain's position within this organization was very precarious and we needed to sort it out, and I believe that I to the fact that was growing political pressure to solve this problem meant that it was inevitable.
To try and renegotiate and hold a referendum in sort things out, but I set this attempt failed, I mean in the end my aim to keep Britain in, but in a special place, wasn't successful difficult decisions are inherently difficult to pray you can make a good decision based on all the available logic and information, but you don't know what the outcome will be. Had you, the dust, to make again today, whether put forth the referendum. Would you who had again well what I say it also that is, I believed, at the time that it was inevitable. A referendum was coming and I thought it best therefore drawn affect a renegotiation and improve and deal with these problems at the same time- and I still think that's the case. So if you go back in time and say it, could you ve done he's differently, put off the referendum. All I would have done was put he's all I mean it still he would have landed all. Maybe my successes.
Been some value for you personally reputational a correct. My feeling was what the job of a prime minister is to try and confront the issues. Not just in front of you were the ones you see coming down the track and not doing something is also a decision after Cameron's impotent veto of the Eu Treaty, but before his eventual call for the bricks it referendum came another reference in two thousand fourteen. The Scottish Nationalist Party won in Scotland to break away from the UK and they want to put it to a vote. Of course I could have said to have no you're not having it does put it off, but that would have just made the problem worse. So the scottish referendum did come up for independence. It fail I was curious whether that may have given you in some of your allies, a false sense of security that abreks it referendum would also fail. I think he gave me a sense that you know here was a problem that was coming down the tracks and weak confronted it, and that was the right thing to do. So the way I think about it is you have to confront,
deal with these issues and then there decisions around the decision you mate, was it the right campaign? Was it the right renegotiation? Was it the right timing and I'm pretty frank that I think I probably got some of those wrong on the central question? Was this problem I'm coming and was a referendum inevitable whilst rejecting war, coming up after the break was inevitable, maybe maybe not very her. Economic and nationalistic drivers, but there was another much more distant event that also drove Rex sentiment. It's coming up ready for this. Fr Economics, radio sponsored by capital, one with no fee. is or minimums on checking and savings accounts. Banking with capital one is the easiest decision in the history of decisions, like choosing to listen to another episode of your favorite podcast and with their top rated app, you can deposit
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Former british Prime Minister, David Cameron, has just published a memoir called for the record if you identify with the forty. Eight percent of Britain's vote for the UK to remain in the European Union, the book may not improve your view of camera, but it's a remarkably interesting account. of a remarkably tumultuous era of modern history is also rather direct Cameron pulse few punches in his descriptions of world leaders, Lattimer Putin, for instance, but if I did try to forge a good relationship with him, because it who, in spite of the disagreements and difficulties. You should make an effort and there were moments of success, but in the end, when it came to the shooting down of the malaysian airliner when it came to work,
was happening in Syria when it came to chemical weapons and what a sad had done. Who is his ally? I find in the end. I just couldn't trust. What he was saying to me was true: here's how open in the book for Putin lying is an art form which is, I guess I left handed compliment. You is very good at at least here, but I do if we take what was happening in Ukraine where effectively Russia took a part of a sovereign country, always trying to claim that it was sort of you know. Ukrainian breakaway forces, but we'll new they were largely russian soldiers, and so he is very good. At information. War in a modern war is fought not just with tanks and bombs and guns but with the pr and media manipulation and cyber attacks as well and cyber attacks that- and you know that was something the Russians got very good at and frankly, we need to raise our game at it. Now. Germ
Angela Merkel. You seem to hold in very, very high regard. Yes, I mean she's, a remarkable politician. Also with huge staying power, and I remember watching her back in to them. And six I was when she first sort of forty campaign and became chancellor, and here we are in twenty nineteen and still less I was barely. I mean it was until I get the sense from your book that she very much empathy. With your desire to disentangle the UK from the EU, and I wondered if she was a closet. fan and maybe even a jerks at fan, wouldn t know given the opportunity? No, no! No. I think I would phrase it differently. She didn't want Britain to disentangle itself from the EU but I think she did have an understanding that Britain was quite a year risk it the nation that we were in the EU for the things that we wanted, the trade and cooperation, but we didn't know we didn't want to. A political union. She did understand that you cannot,
She didn't do enough to to help us with that. What should you have done? How could she have what I think she did help and we cut the budget together? That was important. We were cutting budgets at home and it would have been outrageous took to keep spending more in the EU He did help with my renegotiation. But I we came up against this problem, which was The free movement of people in Europe is a good thing. Millions of british people go and live and work in other european countries. But what was Originally, the free movement of workers became the free movement for everybody. Well- Let me ask about it. This is a complicated conversationalist, but try to have a quick version of a Merkel, one could say was brought down.
Primarily by her generosity in accepting refugees. Yes, primarily, look. I think she made a mistake, because I am all for change and arousing. We actually went out to the camps and brought people back from the camps and gave them the right to live in Britain and educate their children, how's them close them and fed them, and I think that's the right answer. I think the roll out, Sir, is what Germany did, which was just to say all who can make it our welcome here. It was a green light to the people smugglers to just keep going with their work and I felt that Europe handle this issue very badly? You you ve, got to demonstrate that we all know that border controls is only one aspect of a sensible immigration policy, but you do need to have borders particularly if you ve taken down the internal borders between France and ITALY in arrest, but if you take down into the water
you do need a strong external cycle. Big mistakes were made. Well, let's unpacked, that going back to Syria because you re incredibly about your desire to get involved in Syria to retaliate or to stop a son. You write about your conversations with Obama Witch Had you to believe that America would lead the strike, and then you write this sum it's hard to believe. I read it three times it was so We did. It was true that you called Obama to help finalized the plan and he didn't returned the cover, for it is with this was after this are to Syria chapters in to Syria. Sort of things to focus on one is the appalling civil war events that have taken place. and the question could American Britain and others? Could we have done more to try and help resolve this crisis, and I believe we could have done
as a second question, which is only use of chemical weapons were paraca bomber rightly said it was a red line. Why was it that we failed to respond to that red line? And while I'm in it make the point that after it happened, it took to long for us to say I think the real mistake we made was that when we drew the red Line- and we discussed it some time before the chemical weapons attack took place we were at the G8 in Northern Ireland, We should have agreed at that moment. Right was sending a red line if he uses chemical weapons. Here's what we're going to do if we agreed it, we could have taken instant action before having a sort of parliamentary and you end and debate and all the rest of it. I think I blame myself as much for that as Brac, because We, I could have made their argument and I should have made that argument. Were you
kind of waiting for the other to take the lead, and I think it was good and he would say this too. I hope that we were both operating in the sort of post Iraq, world and President Obama was very much elected on the basis of less tran end saw these entail. once and make sense of them and you're. In Britain we had lost a lot of people in Iraq and so we were offer a where the public and parliament was deeply skeptical sceptical about getting involved in these entanglements. I just thought the chemical weapons issues differently, Apart from Saddam Hussein, elaborate, a chemical weapons, hadn't been sort of used on the battlefield for decades, and there was a taboo about it, and that was international rules about, and I thought we'd have been totally justified say this is a red light: bread landscape,
bang, but by the time Obama than reappeared or reconnected with you. You had had a vote in your parliament correct we reconnected before the voted by parliament, but because we hadn't prior agreed the actions I got onto a track of having to take it to parliament, and then I made one of these four miscalculations. I thought that others like me, you would be so shocked by the use of chemical weapons and would sufficiently separated from the other four policy issues but that she people in my own party, my I in caucuses- you had a lot of them said I am voting against this action because what happened in iraq- and I was like but this isn't Iraq, this is chemical weapons, this Assyria oh, but I I didn't convince enough of them. I lost the vote in parliament, which was a very bad thing to do. So when we look at farm policy, we know that term economic sanctions don't often work the way their supposed to. We know that Millet
hurry. Intervention is Firstly on many many many dimensions, but can you talk fermented about the cost in the case of area of non intervention are they was so hideous about the syrian com it is. There were so many bad effects from an oversee, predominantly the appalling suffering of the syrian people, civil war that has gone on for so many years, but it also help to support the growth of ISIS. It also created the background to the refugee crisis that has caused so much human suffering. and possibly you could argue, led to some of the problems in Europe. Perhaps even breaks it itself. How much if it all did syrian, more and the resulting refugee crisis, contribute to the demand for breaks it. it is very hard to say- and the were of course, plenty of other economic factors already pushing the UK in that direction. But it's a compelling argument. The leave campaign, certainly took advantage of anxieties over immigration as camera
noted earlier, the free movement of people is written into the European Union treaties and it gives the citizens of any member state the right to move and live in any other member state without needing a permit. This provision was a major target. of Cameron's RE negotiations with the EU before he called the bricks referendum. To the EU removing and an not reforming. It was something of an article of faith, and I I couldn't persuade them that we need some rough arms to free movement and that what I did in the end was, I persuaded him to accept something which was difficult for them, which was the new arrivals to Britain. Couldn't access our welfare systems for up to four years, which was a huge give for them and a great gain for me, but in the end it didn't quite take the trick in the referendum that Chinese. So there is an economic analysis of migrants done after the referendum, which showed that
european migrants to the UK, produce more gains for the UK economy. Then the standard existing british citizen, so people coming to Britain, because the british economy, he's doing when they were coming to work, and that was great. I think there was the two problems I mention one is when Poland and the other seven eastern european countries joined the EU back in two thousand and four, the UK government said we expect about fourteen thousand. people to come and live and work in Britain. In any event, it was that you were more like a million people came so that had created a sense amongst the british people The politicians just didn't have a good handle on the numbers and that that created a worry. The second thing was that of yes, these people coming to live and work in Britain and contribute and pay taxes, but the way our welfare system work meant that the new arrival could actually claim up to fourteen thousand pan sort of twenty thousand dollars in the first year. In terms of time,
credit to this was an issue, and I thought that my negotiating the welfare side of it would really help and I need help the bit, but it wasn't direct and offered sort of demonstrating further. The number you love and were picture by the same time, Prime Minister's questions here, maybe you could just in a sensor to explore What this tradition is what what happens here every Wednesday at twelve o clock, the premise that turns up to the House of Commons and you take questions from everybody of a half an hour. You do, You know what you're going to be asked. The leader of the opposition get six questions that you have, because I have the commons is, is small it was bombed in the war and Churchill rebuilt it on exactly the same size. We conduct she fit all the people in need did that exist, any likes it being small Does it made an exciting cockpit of debate, and that's true so for that reason it is very intense, very noisy
pretty terrify you can get caught out. So you can go from triumphant, brilliant off the cuff or previously planned answer, and for the first time in a long time, the number of doctors is growing. Very quickly and the number of bureaucrats is actually falling to really screwing up and failing to but the right facto all figured they can take the public. I didn't realize you take seven years to train a doctor, so I'd like to thank him for his congratulations, for our record. Wanted is terrify, there's a purpose to it, and that is that, because you know it's coming it's a great moment of a kind of. where the Prime minister's tentacles gotta, get all over Whitehall when the government machine and know the answer to every question and its often attack and will you find out something own government's policy. Isn't he realized there? Not the ones you
but they were new change things. So let me just devils advocate this for a moment. I love Prime Minister's questions. I've been a few times. I think it's a thrilling exhibit of democracy, which is what is supposed to be. On the other hand, if we think about it economically thing about operate, costs so you're, getting your first round of prep on Monday, along with all your other work, then, tomorrow, Tuesday and Wednesday is really devoted to it. Then afterwards it sounds so draining that you have to go have so Roast beef and red wine immediately after three hundred to fires are takes up a lot of time, Really it takes up Wednesday morning is very intense preparation, the rest, the time you are perfectly capable of doing other things. and don't underestimate, if you didn't have this you'd have to find some other way of suddenly mugging up on every different aspect of what the governments doing. So I find it quite useful as a sort of accountability, Mechano but it is look at these more fit than reality. But let me ask you
I mean I really do admire the fact that every week the leader of the country stands up before the parliament. We don't have that. We have nothing like that. Neither boma once said to me I'm thinking of doing something either circular whose whole their owners before you type talk, then you might want to think about this, but I think you do, I think, that's a justification for it. Ok, let me again bead pure devil's, give her a moment. and say this one thing that many in your country, especially from the educated class like yourself, eaten Oxford and all the Oxbridge universe. One thing that Europe particularly good at is talking which we kind of underestimate as a skill but it's a very effective skill and so pm cues are in a way a pure demonstration.
Will you all speak about the issues about disagreement? Some zealots put that in the pro calm in the com come over. I believe it's in your book, a saying that goes back a ways to the military setting that amateurs strategy, eyes and professionals execute the are either. I used the phrase that twenty my general said, your amateurs talk, tactics, professionals, taught logistics, and now I I think your critique use is a good one. I would argue that good leaders have be good. Teaches you have to take the country with you have to keep explaining and promises. Questions can be a you know. It is a time when you're trying to explain your trying to send out your cause of what you're doing. I think. Looking back, I wish we had done more just trying to explain whether your you're reforming schools or your intervening, illiberal you're, trying to win a referendum on breaks it just communicate community
One thing we don't have that you have is that state of the nation moment. I find somebody found this a bit frustrating that too much of our position is very confrontational, and in that of a cop pit of calm, the hunting each other in person catches a totally different dynamic than sniping in the press? I mean you do a lot of that issue, so I, but I know I'm I'm. What I'm saying is, I think you're pretty has got some fairness to it, but don't underestimate the importance of the communicating part of politics it does matter on the party politics which is actually delivering change and making things happen and the importance of logistics. I completely agree that I don't think there's enough attention to that in most governments, you know a joke in the book that the early on as Prime Minister thrown off you what's the matter, one as well as to those first, we gonna find out what the governments doing a second, you gonna stop it because you know,
enormous machine that you're running and I think I'm a huge fan of the british civil service. But if I had a criticism its, they are great developing policy, but not so good at implementing policy, and I think in schools of government and training of politicians and civil servants in thinking about these things. We need to spend more time on how to get things done, rollin how to develop a policy, something we talk about on the show out. So in the medical field, for instance, innovations happen in medicine. What time do they take on average about twelve years to work their way and so government? I can understand why difficult in the real world. However, what do you see his ways to kind of shorten that lag between good ideas in implementation, and let me give you one example which color shows all the even talk about. I became obsessed by the power of general mix to try and get to the answer. raw childhood diseases in cancer and other things? And so I said right, let's be the first government in the world to sequence: a hundred thousand genome
and the officials said. That's a great idea, promising we're gonna do that six It was a how is my one hundred thousand Jean, whose approach guy and literally nothing had happened, lots we will sat around and talked about it, and then we set up a company and now, as we sit here, they are more than under those genomes- have been sequence. Britain is still leading the well. What I had in permitting sequence is this an argument for the private sector. Providing the pie for incentives are going where I'm going to is a sometimes you think you ve done something in government, but nothing happens, be you have to drive change by going back and back and back and checking but see where I was going to is. Actually, I think genomics is a good example of how we must get new clinical discoveries into clinical practice faster, and I suspect we can
cause of you know the way we can change education models. The way that we can educate people lie in the way the doctors can share, research, etc, etc. It must be possible. We should say your personal connection to this stories your son Ivan your first born son, who died at age. Six. Yes, right and he had a rare, had out a horror syndrome which was a rare child, a disease which meant that he had. I was quadriplegic, he couldn't weaves arms legacy had terrible epileptics issues, and so this was one of the things that sparked my interest in genomics, because when he was born I was very, very tough and even in a rewarding looking after someone like that, but but very very tough and interesting. When we sit asked the doktor, can we have other children? What will happen and back then genetic couch thing was well, could be genetic, in which case one in four? Might not be in which case one in its remarkable it,
Wasn't that long ago, exactly Enzo, you know they gave us a blended probability, one in twenty, and luckily I were three healthy children's and has there since been better test for and will you do have interesting? Lay one of the breakthroughs from genome sequencing has been, in some cases, discovering children without a horror syndrome much faster, and I think- and in some cases actually some changes in diet and item in such as lead to some better outcomes. But back all these, they went Was it a horror syndrome? What it really means is like a description of the symptoms, but we don't stillness of the underlying causes. Us carries why you named him even not a common name. In Britain, though I caught a cut my wife lighted and we I took the view that she was the one who had the children used. Are you my corner on names, but on the whole,
when these his battles, let's get back to breaks it for just a moment as we speak, its thee Twenty seventh of September. A lot of things are going to happen in the next month, including a conservative party conference and then theoretically, the bricks it deadline, it's impossible to predict the future. But if I ask you to give me a high certainty prediction, something that you definitely think will probably will probably will not happen, and really, I mostly interested in what you think happens for Britain economically. I think it is too difficult to make an absolutely categorical prediction about what will happen next, I do the best you can do so to attach some probabilities, but what might happen next? What I want to happen is for the prime minister to go to Brussels. Negotiate deal and that deal to go through, so we leave on the basis of a deal. I think basil
good chance of that happening. But I can't absolutely for certain saving happen. Are you speaking with Boris regularly? We have texted a little bit yeah, more advice and wholesome large, but I'm I'm in Korea that I want to do everything I can do. That is the right thing to do, but of course, if that doesn't happen You on a range of other possibilities from a no deal breaks it, which, I hope will happen. It will try. Parliament is closed. That option off and then you get into general elections. potentially second referendums, to unblock this situation. Some afraid that I hate to say this. He does appear a great uncertainty, final question: do you we're fantasies that some day the average Britain will look at you as the man who saved the UK
on some dimension whose salvaged its independence. I think I don't already fantasies about almost anything. I hope people will take a sort of balanced view and say that important changes were made in terms of our economy that strengthened it. Important social changes were made. Sire people will look across the record, but obviously until the breaks it uncertainty is his ended. That's going to be a very big question, but don't you don't get to write your own legacy? Historians do that I've written a book to try to explain my perspectives and our people will say that it's a frank and reasonable effort and some important things change for the better, but are also challenges still to answer. I thank you for writing. I thank you for speaking and I feel we need to let you go see the rest of America now, but I'm thanks for stopping at the repression and ice coming up next time on for economics, radio,
It is tempting to see the bricks it vote as just the latest development in Britain's long slide from global empress, too said dowager, but that really the case. Britain is an extraordinary history of discovery and we head to London, thank you so much to hear what discovery looks like there today from undersea exploration, and this is a really important sign that actually into twenty sixteen we did not know existed through the passage of time. We don't find, but people's perceptions of feeling always have changed over time. We discover how Liverpool Football Club use data to put together a team that won the Champions League, the sort of players I really like ungainly, looking players have been overlooked and We learn that the mayor of London is not one hundred percent opposed to the idea.
London seceding from Britain I love the southern Presidente its next time on friggin, I'm afraid you ve, I'm afraid you is produced by Sticker and W productions. This episode was produced by Daphne Chen. Our staff also includes Allison, Craig Low Gregg Ribbon Harry Huggins Zack weapons key met Hickey in Korean Wallis for theme. Song is MR fortune by the hitchhikers all their music was composed by the we scared you can subscribe to for economics radio and give it a nice reading if you'd like an apple, podcast or Google podcast or spot a fire, any progress that our entire archive, can be found exclusively on the stitches Pakistan or at Freakonomics dot com, where we also publish, show, notes, transcripts and so on. To get our higher archive without ads, as well as bonus episodes go to deter premium dot com slashed for economics,
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Transcript generated on 2021-01-19.