David Cameron was accused of patronising Brexit voters last night after he attributed the referendum result to the ‘rise of populism’.
The former prime minister, an old Etonian, was branded an ‘old-fashioned aristocrat complaining about the tenants’ after he invoked the pejorative term to explain his defeat on June 23.
Tory MPs accused Mr Cameron of rejecting the democratic verdict simply because it did not chime with the views of the metropolitan elite.
They said the ‘entitled’ politician should not have blamed ‘populism’, because the term has been used by many to dismiss public discontent with the EU and the Establishment.
David Cameron (pictured) was accused of patronising Brexit voters after he attributed the referendum result to the ‘rise of populism’
Mr Cameron (pictured) made his first speech since his resignation at DePauw University, Indiana
It is not known how much Mr Cameron was paid for his speech at DePauw University in the American state of Indiana.
His aides did not respond to questions about his fee last night. However last month he received £120,000 for a speech in New York reported to have lasted little more than an hour.
Paid by Wall Street financiers Blackstone Properties, the fee worked out at £2,000 a minute.
His former number two, George Osborne, has earned more than £500,000 from speeches since leaving the Government.
In his speech, Mr Cameron claimed Brexit was a part of a populist ‘movement of unhappiness’ that had also led to the election of Donald Trump and the downfall last week of Italian premier Matteo Renzi.
He said: ‘I stand here as a great optimist about how we can combat populism. It may seem odd that I’m so optimistic, after all, the rise of populism cost me my job.’
Mr Cameron said he believed it was right to hold the referendum as the issue of Europe was ‘beginning to poison British politics’.
He added: ‘It was certainly poisoning politics in my own party. People often ask me, ‘How are you sleeping?’ and I say ‘I sleep like a baby – I wake up every hour calling for my mother’.’
The ex-PM said he believed the euro could collapse as a result of the European Union’s economic problems. ‘I see more trouble ahead. It is not working as it was intended,’ he said.
‘Some countries have seen decades of lost growth. Those countries have a single currency but they don’t have a single fiscal system, a fiscal tax system. It creates bigger differences.
‘You in the United States have ways to make sure that if you have a bad year you pay less in taxes and offset federal programmes. There are no such arrangements in Europe.’
In his speech, Mr Cameron claimed Brexit was a part of a populist ‘movement of unhappiness’
Mr Cameron also revealed he watched a game of basketball in Texas with former president George W Bush
Mr Cameron said: ‘So far, these three events – the Brexit referendum, the election of President Trump and the referendum in Italy – I’m sure people are going to write about this movement of unhappiness and concern about the state of the world. You could see that in the British vote was a mixture of economics and cultural arguments.
‘I think your situation was quite similar; I think in Italy it’s more connected with the euro.
‘Ultimately, how 2016 goes down in history will depend on what political leaders do next. That’s why I have tried to make a very clear argument, which is that if they put their heads in the sand and say, ‘Well this will pass and we’ll just carry on the way we are,’ then 2016 will be seen as a real watershed.
‘But if, as I believe will happen, our democracies are flexible enough and our leaders are aware enough, they will correct problems they face.
‘If we don’t address the concerns of those economically left behind, we open up our politics to the parties of the extreme left.
‘And if we don’t address the concerns of those left culturally behind, we open up to the parties of the extreme right.’
Mr Cameron said he believed it was right to hold the referendum as the issue of Europe was ‘beginning to poison British politics’
But Philip Davies, the Tory MP for Shipley, said: ‘Mr Cameron lost his job because he nailed his colours too firmly to the Remain mast and misjudged the mood of the public and was out of touch with their views on the EU. That was his fault and certainly not theirs.’
Fellow Tory MP Andrew Bridgen said: ‘David Cameron talks about the rise of populism – unfortunately it’s called democracy.
‘It’s always a bad sign when former prime ministers start blaming the electorate. It’s almost like he’s saying to the people: ‘I know best’.
‘He didn’t mind being in favour of populism when he beat Ed Miliband. He’s in danger of looking like a sore loser. This is what the London metropolitan liberal elite believe.
‘They need to get out into the country to find out what people in the country think.’
Mr Cameron was given short shrift by Twitter users for blaming his downfall on ‘populism’
Andrew Rosindell, a third Tory MP, said: ‘Our ex-PM misjudged the mood of the nation in June and he’s sadly doing it again. The British people are not populists, they are patriots and saw through the EU’s political ambitions and sensibly rejected it.’
Sir Simon Jenkins, a political commentator, told the BBC: ‘It sounds like an old-fashioned aristocrat complaining about the tenants. Cameron got beat because he screwed up.’
Asked whether Theresa May agrees with the populism argument, her spokesman said: ‘The Prime Minister has set out some of the issues that she believes were expressed during the referendum, including the need to make sure that the benefits of globalisation are shared more broadly, to work for a country and an economy that delivers for everyone and that’s what she’s focused upon.’