Mr Cameron said in 2013 he would argue for fundamental changes but instead left Brussels in February 2016 with a patchwork of watered-down compromises.
It was a defeat that paved the way for the Leave vote to triumph that summer as many, including Lord Howard, came to the reluctant conclusion that leaving was a better option than remaining a member of an unreformed EU.
The EU has always been clear it did not wish the UK, one of the largest net contributors to its budget, to leave but there appears to have been little soul-searching on how its own approach contributed to Brexit occurring.
There are now alarming signs that history is rapidly beginning to repeat itself in the parallels between Mr Cameron’s frustrated efforts and those now being experienced by Brexit Secretary David Davis.
Mr Davis’ reasonable point that many of the complicated issues thrown up by the Brexit process can only be resolved with an understanding of how a new partnership between the EU and the UK will work are falling on deaf ears, with Brussels remaining unwilling to start discussions on future trade arrangements as a row continues over a potential divorce bill.
EU officials have repeatedly said they believe the Brexit process will be both damaging to the British economy and that of its remaining 27 members. By that logic, not reaching a reasonable deal that works for both sides represents an act of self-harm for the EU. Mr Davis must achieve what Mr Cameron failed to - get the EU to listen to reason and act in everyone’s interests.