British right-of-centre politician, Conservative party leader 2005–16 and prime minister 2010–16. A skilled communicator, he rose rapidly within the Conservative Party to become deputy chair and policy coordinater from 2003. From 2005, as leader in opposition, he moderated the Conservatives' image through speeches on environmental issues and accepting Labour Party spending commitments for health and education. The Conservatives made gains in the May 2010 general election, but fell short of an overall majority of seats. This enabled Cameron to form a full coalition government (the first since World War II) with the Liberal Democrats, whose leader Nick Clegg became deputy prime minister. Helped by a recovering economy and voters' lack of confidence in the Labour opposition, Cameron led the Conservatives to a narrow overall majority of seats at the May 2015 general election. His second term as prime minister was dominated by the issue of the European Union (EU). In 2015–16, after negotiating a revised settlement for the UK in the EU, he led the Remain campaign in the UK's June 2016 referendum on EU membership. Voters backed Leave by a 52% to 48% margin, and within hours of the result, Cameron announced that he would stand down as prime minister. In July 2016 he was replaced as Conservative leader and prime minister by his home secretary, Theresa May, and in September 2016 Cameron retired as a member of Parliament (MP).
After playing a key role in drafting the Conservatives' manifesto for the May 2005 general election, Cameron became shadow education secretary and contested for the party's leadership of the party, after Michael Howard decided to step down. Cameron impressed party members with an impassioned speech at the October 2005 Conservative conference, and they elected him leader by a large majority in December 2005. His leadership campaign had called for modernization around what he termed ‘compassionate conservatism’, following the party's three successive general election defeats.
When Cameron came to power, the government's overriding task was to address the high level of government debt that had built up under the precding Labour government as a result of the 2008 global financial crisis. Cameron and his Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, developed a ‘Long Term Economic Plan’, centred around an austerity programme of cuts and freezes to government spending, working-age welfare and civil service pay, and employment. The coalition government also carried out a controversial reorganization of the National Health Service and held, in 2014, a referendum in Scotland on independence which saw a vote to remain in the UK, but with increased devolved powers. Between March and September 2011, the UK participated in the international intervention which brought the overthrow of the autocratic Moamer al Khaddhafi regime in Libya.
Born in London, Cameron was educated at Eton College and Oxford University, studying politics, philosophy, and economics. After university he worked at the Conservative Research Department 1988–92 and as a special adviser at the Treasury and Home Office 1992–94, before joining the media company Carlton Communication plc, where he was director of corporate affairs. He was elected MP for Witney, Oxfordshire, in June 2001. With his privileged upbringing and relaxed and pragmatic image, Cameron became viewed as the ‘Conservative's Blair’. In 2006 he published a statement of aims and values, setting out a new Conservative concern for the environment, eradicating poverty, and putting economic stability before tax reductions.
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