Former British Premier David Cameron’s visit can well be a harbinger of greater global interest in our Colombo Port City, which is now entering its main development phase. President Wickremesinghe is on the right track in enlisting global support to pull the country out of its economic mess.



President Ranil Wickremesinghe (RW) in a new, well-cut, powder blue suit, which would have fitted a rock star admirably, met former UK Prime Minister David Cameron for a tête-à-tête in his office some days ago and later hosted a lunch for him at The Kingsbury.

He was accompanied by their mutual friend Nirj Deva alias Niranjan Deva Aditya – ex-Member of the British Parliament and ex-Member of the European Parliament, who on both occasions represented the Conservative Party of the UK. Deva is also a Foreign Affairs Advisor to the President and a member of his inner circle of friends.

Cameron’s career

Cameron has had many ups and downs in his political career. Born in 1966, he did not belong to the traditional upper crust of English society, which dominated the Conservative Party – particularly before the advent of Margaret Thatcher, who came from the middle class.

Cameron’s father was a stockbroker and not a very efficient money manager, which excluded him from the social cabals of the High Tories. The son however was determined to climb the social ladder and looked on the Tory Party as the natural expression of the elite circles he wanted to join.

After an Eaton education he entered Oxford and obtained a first class pass in PPE (Politics, Philosophy, and Economics). With a natural sense of superiority, he gravitated to the Conservatives and with communications as his special skill set he entered the Research Department of Tory headquarters, which was considered an incubation centre for future party leaders with modern-day skills.

It was an initiative of modernists like Rab Butler, who realised that the party leadership could scarcely be found through traditional Tory criteria like land ownership and club affiliations.

Cameron was one of the new breed of young Conservatives who rose in the party through merit and hard work. He worked in the Research Department of the party and was elevated to be a Special Advisor to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He entered Parliament through a safe seat in Whitney, West Oxfordshire.

Though young, he was given responsibility by the party after being elevated to the front bench as spokesman for local government finance and shadow Deputy Leader of the House of Commons. In 2005, he was elected Leader of the Conservative Party and in 2010 after elections became Prime Minister in a coalition with the Liberal Party, making him the youngest PM in 198 years.

Cameron and Sri Lanka

Cameron last visited Sri Lanka in 2014 during the presidency of Mahinda Rajapaksa (MR), for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) held in Colombo. It was presided over by then Prince Charles.

At that time, with a tight election due on the Brexit issue which was getting on his nerves, Cameron behaved arrogantly in Sri Lanka, with an eye on the votes of the Tamil diaspora in the UK. He distanced himself from the functions of his host nation.

His comments on the local ethnic issue, visit to Jaffna, and playing cricket with Muralitharan in the mistaken belief that Murali was a Jaffna Tamil was not appreciated by Sri Lankans and President MR, who put him in his place by positioning him at the back of the group for the usual ‘family photograph’ of participants.

Cameron was not given any privileges despite coming from the home country, which was considered to be the fountainhead of the Commonwealth. On the other hand, HRH Charles won the hearts of the people with his friendly and relaxed manner.

Cameron and Colombo Port City

However, all that ugly politicking in a foreign land did not help Cameron because the British public refused to follow his policies regarding Europe. On the Brexit issue he was rejected by the Tories, which followed the policy advocated by the flamboyant Boris Johnson. Theresa May, who did a U-turn on Brexit, was elected to succeed Cameron.

After resigning office, he took to business but was tainted by a scandal which saw him lose all influence in the party. Unlike other former British PMs, except Tony Blair, who did not employ their former positions to make money in business deals, David Cameron entered the field of global money making as advisor to rich businessmen and potentates. Henry Kissinger of the US too made money out of the super rich by trading on his public reputation.

Cameron is now an advisor to Middle Eastern investors and his visit to the Colombo Port City (CPC) immediately after the rapprochement between China and Saudi Arabia is of much significance. Following President Xi Jinping’s visit to Saudi Arabia, the Saudis have entered into a partnership with the Chinese company which is the main shareholder in the CPC enterprise.

Cameron’s visit can well be a harbinger of greater global interest in our Colombo Port City, which is now entering its main development phase. President RW is on the right track in enlisting global support to pull the country out of its economic mess and his old Conservative caucus seems to be lining up to hold his hand.

Courtesy:Sunday Morning