Cameron's rise to power was surefooted and controlled, but his political downfall has been swift and crushing. Having enjoyed a childhood within a relatively wealthy family — his father was a stockbroker — he was sent to Eton College.
From Eton, he went up to Oxford University to study Philosophy, Politics and Economics and where he met the future mayor of London Boris Johnson. They were both in the posh Bullingdon club, whose wealthy members enjoyed lavish and boisterous dinners.
Cameron then worked his way up the political ladder, doing work in the Conservative Research Department, later becoming Special Adviser to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and then to the Home Secretary. In all these roles, Cameron rubbed shoulders with to top echelons of the Conservative Party.
He won a seat in parliament at the 2001 election, retaining it in 2005, but his party failed to win enough to oust Labour. Backed by Boris Johnson and Shadow Chancellor George Osborne, Cameron won and became leader of the Conservatives in December 2005.
He took the party into the 2010 general election where — after a fall in Labour — he negotiated a coalition deal with the Liberal Democrats. His political worth jumped when he won the 2015 election, albeit with a small majority.
But his textbook and meteoric rise to fame was doomed by two things: his image as a 'toff' and his inability to heal the great divide in his party over Britain's membership of the European Union. The party had been split ever since the signing — by former Conservative Prime Minister John Major — of the Maastricht Treaty, which brought into being the EU as it is today — moving it from purely being a trading zone and making it more a political union.
Cameron failed for too long to see the importance of the rise of ant-EU party UKIP and support for Britain leaving the EU rising among Conservative grassroots. He even referred to them as "swivel-eyed loons", which caused anger among euroskeptiks within his own party.
Finally, he was forced to concede and announced — ahead of the 2015 election — that he would hold an In-Out referendum of Britain's membership of the EU by the end of 2017. In February 2016, Cameron attempted to renegotiate the UK's membership of the EU in an attempt to get a deal that would convince doubters to remain in a "reformed EU".
#VoteRemain today and secure a stronger future for our country. We're stronger, safer and better off in Europe. pic.twitter.com/x08rC0lAUW— David Cameron (@David_Cameron) 23 June 2016
His plan failed. A major issue was in-work benefits for EU migrant workers. He got an agreement that these would be delayed for four years, but only on a sliding scale and then only with the permission of other states. An agreement on the UK not moving towards "ever closer union" was promoted as being significant, despite already having been previously agreed.
The "reforms" he won were hollow.
His second mistake was timing. Having agreed to the referendum being held before the end of 2017, he was advised to hold it well ahead of that, so as not to coincide with the German and French elections in that year, so he plumped for June 23, 2016.
The date coincided with the EU migrant crisis and massive media interest in immigration. The news agenda was dominated by anger over immigration and border controls. Had he waited until 2017, the EU may have imploded anyway, amid the migrant and Eurozone crises.
His third grand error was "Project Fear" — sowing the seeds of Armageddon in the event of Brexit. Bringing out the big guns — US President Barack Obama and a whole host of officials from international institutions — backfired on him. Cameron failed to make the positive case for remaining within the EU.
.@David_Cameron: @TheresaMay2016 is strong, she is competent & will provide the leadership our country needs.https://t.co/KVG9QAQ3qb— Conservatives (@Conservatives) 11 July 2016
Cameron's ultimate misfortune was failing to take the pulse of the nation. He did not understand the extent of opposition to the Brussels machine. He was fixated by the delusion that Britain would play safe and stay in. Having gone from Eton to Oxford, to the Conservative machine, to Downing Street, his political obituary will be dominated by the headline: "He lived his life in a bubble".