It was when former British prime minister David Cameron rolled up his sleeves to win the internal battles in his Conservative Party that he made the fatal mistake of calling a referendum — it would spell the end of his premiership. By calling for a vote on his country's future membership of the European Union, I imagine he was banking on his preference winning because of his "popularity" and thereafter weeding out his eurosceptic opponents within his party. He clearly misread the situation and underestimated rivals such as Boris Johnson as the referendum went against his view that staying in the 28-member EU was the best course. He fell on his sword and after only six years, lost a job that he had aspired to for most of his adult life. To some degree, President Cyril Ramaphosa faces a similar scenario. Just how much of his energy does he dedicate to solidifying his base within a party that is quite literally tearing itself apart at the seams, in a climate where the long-term health ...

BL Premium

This article is reserved for our subscribers.

A subscription helps you enjoy the best of our business content every day along with benefits such as exclusive Financial Times articles, Morningstar financial data, and digital access to the Sunday Times and Times Select.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Questions or problems? Email or call 0860 52 52 00.