September 19, 2019 - 3:53pm

George Osborne is so steeped in politics he just can’t help himself. His review of the memoir of “my friend David” in today’s Evening Standard sends a shiver down the spine – under cover of an apparently fawning review he gently sticks the knife in.

First of all he lists all of Dave’s projects that have died a death and now feel like a lifetime ago – “the long term economic plan; deficit control; coalition with the Lib Dems; the Big Society; education reform; Tory modernisation; vote blue to go green; hug a hoodie…” It’s half wistful, half cleverly designed to draw attention to the fact that while Cameron’s life has been on hold ever since, stuck in “a kind of purgatory” as George describes it sympathetically, Osborne has most definitely Moved On.

But the same list, summing up in so few phrases the project of his entire government, accidentally draws attention to the fact that while the tectonic plates were shifting under their feet, they were filling the air with the wrong obsessions. “Hands up who yearns for a time when the biggest row in British politics was whether to tax Cornish pasties?” Osborne asks. Well, kind of, but you’re the ones who should have been directing our attention to what mattered.

But the dagger really comes out later in his review. Sandwiched either side by a compliment, he finally gets to the main event:

A couple of pages later, the fateful conclusion David comes to that “altering Britain’s relationship with the EU in some regards and then putting it to a referendum I think would be a good Conservative policy for the next parliament.” He wants you to know that this referendum was a premeditated decision, pre-cooked by his predecessors and later widely supported, not the lone decision of a politician panicked by losing the European elections two years later.

On page 409 you’ll find my unsuccessful attempt to stop it.

- George Osborne

Oof. Blame delivered, complete with page reference. And all within a lyrical, sweet-smelling, positive review. Not so much as a mention of his own part in losing the referendum with an economic scare strategy that backfired.

With friends like these…

Freddie Sayers is the Editor-in-Chief & CEO of UnHerd. He was previously Editor-in-Chief of YouGov, and founder of PoliticsHome.