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 (13 November).
Only a few former prime ministers have returned to lower ministerial positions.
Cameron said he was delighted to take on his new role because, in a time of global change, “it has rarely been more important for this country to stand alongside our allies, strengthen our partnerships and ensure our voice is heard.”
“While I disagreed with some of the isolated decisions, it is clear to me that Rishi Sunak is a strong and capable Prime Minister who is demonstrating exemplary leadership at a difficult time,” he wrote on X.
The move surprised experts and conservatives, but it is not unprecedented. Alec Douglas-Home returned to the post of Foreign Secretary in 1970, six years after serving as Prime Minister for one year. Cameron is set to take a seat in the House of Lords, the unelected upper house of the United Kingdom.
Cameron’s return has been welcomed by Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and will strengthen the UK’s diplomatic presence, although few in Brussels have fond memories of his reign.
His personal popularity among British voters and his party is also low. According to a September poll by pollster Savanta, only 24% of British adults have a positive view of Cameron, with many blaming 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, controversial Home Secretary Suella Braverman was removed from government, sparking an angry reaction from the party’s right wing. She described the pro-Palestinian demonstrations in London last weekend as “hate marches” in an unauthorized article and accused the police of applying a double standard to the protests. She claimed that the police were strict with right-wing demonstrators but lenient with pro-Palestinian demonstrators. She is now replaced by James Cleverly, Cameron’s predecessor at the Foreign Office.
The cabinet reshuffle is likely to be the last before the general elections, which must take place no later than January 2025. Opinion polls indicate that the Labor Party continues to lead by more than 20 points, which could constitute a landslide victory.
Brexit is back
MPs from the moderate wing of the party said that Cameron’s appointment brings international experience and sends a broader message to the country.
“It’s a message to the blue wall of the Tories and moderate voters that we’re not going to the right,” said one Conservative MP, using a phrase used to describe areas of southern England that have traditionally supported the Conservatives.
Some MPs feared that Braverman, with his tough stance on immigration and welfare, was trying to return the Conservatives to the “bad party” – a term former Prime Minister Theresa May used in 2002 to persuade the party to shed its reputation. As harsh.
But Cameron’s return increased the anger of some on the right after her dismissal. They said Braverman’s position on police handling of the protests was the right one and they expected she would remain a vocal force.
Some Brexiteers also said Cameron’s role in the Brexit vote meant the so-called “Remain” wing of the party had seized power.
Cleverly, who replaces Braverman, is considered a trusted successor. He said his new job is to “protect the people of this country.”
With Braverman no longer in office, Braverman’s attention could turn to preparing for a potential leadership race if, as opinion polls indicate, Sunak’s Conservative Party loses next year’s election.
At last month’s party conference, Sunak tried to present himself again as an agent of “change”, but his message was overshadowed by a poorly publicized decision to cancel part of the country’s largest railway project.
Labor has described Sunak as weak since Braverman’s article was published on Wednesday. Now opposition MPs have said his decision to appoint Cameron was an act of desperation.
MP Pat Macfadyen, Labour’s national campaign coordinator, said: “A few weeks ago, Rishi Sunak said David Cameron was part of the failed status quo, and now he’s bringing it back as his lifeboat.
He added: “This invalidates the Prime Minister’s ridiculous claims that he is offering change after 13 years of Tory failure.”
[Bearbeitet von Kjeld Neubert]
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