Shock return to politics of ex-PM David Cameron
By Sara Csornai
Rishi Sunak has appointed former British Prime Minister David Cameron to the post of foreign secretary.
When the former UK prime minister David Cameron was named foreign secretary by Rishi Sunak as part of a cabinet reshuffle on November 13, the government administration praised Cameron’s past experience, acquired as the U.K. Prime Minister from 2010 to 2016, and said Sunak was building “a strong and united team” by progressively achieving a government balance by shifting the hard right Conservative Party to the centre, which Cameron would contribute to.“I hope that six years as prime minister, 11 years leading the Conservative Party, gives me some useful experience and contacts and relationships and knowledge that I can help the prime minister to make sure we build our alliances, we build partnerships with our friends, we deter our enemies and we keep our country strong,” said Lord Cameron.
However, critics have pointed out the fact that despite the conservatives having been in power for 13 years, opinion polls from the past few months have put them 15 to 20 points behind the opposition Labour Party. In the face of an overburdened healthcare system, continually rising inflation and a stagnating economy, the unexpected move of Rishi Sunak may appear desperate, while he is additionally taking a risk in giving a new political life to the leader responsible for Brexit.
Sunak had been under pressure to fire Home Secretary Suella Braverman, a 43-year-old attorney who rose to “fame” in the party’s populist wing by promoting strict immigration restrictions, as well as a war on human rights safeguards, progressive social ideals, and what she called the “tofu-eating wokerati.”
She put further pressure on the prime minister to act up last month when she called immigration a “hurricane” that was headed for Britain and referred to homelessness as “a lifestyle choice.” Furthermore, Braverman has been said to be preparing for a potential party leadership contest in case the Conservatives lose the election that is anticipated to take place in the following year.
Apart from the previously mentioned modifications, Sunak has implemented a number of additional changes, such as appointing Victoria Atkins as the new health secretary and relocating Steve Barclay, her predecessor, to the environment portfolio. However, the majority of senior ministers would maintain their positions. In place of Braverman, he named James Cleverly, a former foreign secretary, who was transferred to the Home Office.
The government announced that in addition to his new position, Cameron has been appointed to the House of Lords, the unelected upper chamber of Parliament. “I know it’s not usual for a prime minister to come back in this way,” the now-Lord Cameron acknowledged. “But I believe in public service.”
There are mixed results from Cameron’s past foreign policy strategy. As a prime minister, he supported the 2011 NATO-led military invasion of Libya, which resulted in the overthrow of Moammar Gadhafi and further instabilities and chaos in Libya. He unsuccessfully attempted, in 2013, to get Parliament’s support for British airstrikes against President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in Syria. Not long before the U.K.-China relationship collapsed, he also announced the beginning of an unexpected “golden era” in that partnership.
How will his unexpected actions impact Rishi Sunak and the nation’s destiny, though, now that he has “rolled the dice”?
As the side voting “leave” won, which, by the way Sunak was a firm supporter of, he has fueled tensions within the Conservative Party that Sunak has tried to resolve the situation by choosing to promote Cameron and fire Braverman, which is a move that is sure to enrage the right of the party. Meanwhile, it poses a threat to working-class voters who supported Brexit and migrated from Labour to the Conservatives in the general election in 2019. However, the move may be able to win back moderate supporters who felt appalled by the party’s drastic turn to the right. Tim Bale, a professor of politics at Queen Mary University of London, agreed that Cameron’s appointment was a sign of the government’s “desperation,” saying that “It’s difficult to believe that this is going to impress voters, whether they are convinced Brexiteers who despise David Cameron for being a remainer or convinced remainers who despise David Cameron for holding and losing a referendum.”