David Cameron, who resigned as prime minister following the defeat of the UK’s EU membership referendum in 2016, was appointed foreign secretary by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Monday (November 13).
Few former prime ministers have ever returned to a lower ministerial post.
Cameron said he was pleased to take on his new role because in a time of global change, “it has rarely been more important for this country to stand with our allies, strengthen our partnerships and ensure our voice is heard.”
“While I disagreed with some isolated decisions, it is clear to me that Rishi Sunak is a strong and capable Prime Minister who is showing exemplary leadership in a difficult time,” he wrote on X.
The move surprised experts and conservatives but is not unprecedented. Alec Douglas-Home returned as Foreign Secretary in 1970, six years after a one-year term as Prime Minister. Cameron will take a seat in the House of Lords, the United Kingdom’s unelected upper house.
Cameron’s return was welcomed by Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and will boost the UK’s diplomatic presence, although few in Brussels have fond memories of his reign.
His personal popularity with British voters and his party is also low. According to a September poll by pollster Savanta, only 24 percent of British adults have a positive view of Cameron, and many blame him for the political chaos that has engulfed the United Kingdom during the Brexit process.
His return to one of the highest ministerial posts also does not fit with Sunak’s promise to bring about change after more than 13 years of Conservative government.
With Cameron’s arrival, the controversial Interior Minister Suella Braverman was dismissed from the government, which led to an angry reaction from the right wing of the party. She described the pro-Palestinian demonstrations in London last weekend as “hate marches” in an unauthorized article and accused the police of applying double standards to protests. She claimed police were tough on right-wing protesters but were lenient on pro-Palestinian demonstrators. She is now being replaced by James Cleverly, Cameron’s predecessor at the Foreign Office.
The reshuffle is likely to be the last before the general elections, which must take place no later than January 2025. In opinion polls, Labor continues to lead by more than 20 points, which would amount to a landslide victory.
Brexit is returning
MPs from the party’s moderate wing said Cameron’s appointment brings international experience and sends a broader message to the country.
“It’s a message to the Tory blue wall and moderate voters that we’re not going to the right,” said one Conservative MP, using a phrase used to describe the areas of the south of England that have traditionally been the support conservatives.
Some MPs had feared that Braverman, with his tough stance on immigration and welfare, was trying to turn the Conservatives back into the “nasty party” – a term used by former Prime Minister Theresa May in 2002 to persuade the party to to shed their reputation as callous.
But Cameron’s return has added to the anger of some on the right after her dismissal. They said Braverman’s stance on police handling of protests was the right one and predicted she will remain a vocal force.
Some Brexit supporters also said Cameron’s role in the Brexit vote meant the so-called “Remain” wing of the party had taken power.
Cleverly, who replaces Braverman, is considered a reliable successor. He said his new job was “to protect the people of this country.”
With Braverman no longer in office, Braverman’s attention could turn to preparing for a possible leadership race if, as polls suggest, Sunak’s Conservatives lose the election expected next year.
At last month’s party conference, Sunak tried to once again present himself as an agent of “change”, but his message was overshadowed by a poorly communicated decision to scrap part of the country’s largest rail project.
Labor had described Sunak as weak since Braverman’s article was published on Wednesday. Now opposition MPs said his decision to appoint Cameron was an act of desperation.
MP Pat McFadden, Labour’s national campaign coordinator, said: “A few weeks ago Rishi Sunak said David Cameron was part of a failed status quo, now he is bringing him back as his lifeboat.”
“This puts to rest the Prime Minister’s ridiculous claim that he is offering a change from 13 years of Tory failure.”
[Bearbeitet von Kjeld Neubert]
The post first appeared on www.euractiv.de