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Mon, 20 May 2024

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By Lord Watson of Wyre Forest
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David Cameron Appointed Foreign Secretary In Shock Move

David Cameron walks in to Downing Street (Alamy)

6 min read

Rishi Sunak has appointed David Cameron as foreign secretary after the prime minister embarked on a major cabinet reshuffle.

Cameron was spotted walking in to Downing Street this morning to meet the prime minister after it was rumoured he was being offered the post of foreign secretary. 

He has replaced James Cleverly, who was moved to Home Secretary after Suella Braverman was sacked on Monday. Sunak has been under pressure to reshuffle his cabinet in the run up to the next election, which is expected to take place in Autumn 2024. 

More changes are expected to be made with Therese Coffey, the Environment Secretary, and Steve Barclay, the Health Secretary, thought to be at risk of losing their jobs. 

Cameron announced he was stepping down as prime minister the day after the Brexit referendum on June 24 2016, after Britain voted to leave the European Union. 

He said the UK would have a new prime minister and Conservative Party leader by October 2016. Former home secretary Theresa May replaced Cameron as leader. 

Cameron stepped down as MP for Witney and triggered a by-election in September 2016, after he claimed he did not want to be a "distraction" for May, the then-prime minister. 

Robert Courts replaced Cameron as the Conservative candidate, and has served as the MP for Witney since the by-election. 

It was reported in 2018 Cameron wanted to return to frontline politics and had ambitions to return as foreign secretary.  

Cameron is the first former prime minister to be made a cabinet minister for more than 50 years, after Edward Heath appointed Alec Douglas Home as foreign secretary. 

One minister told PoliticsHome Cameron’s return would boost the electoral prospects of Tory MPs in southern, so-called “blue wall” seats, arguing that the former PM remains a popular figure in those areas.

Pat McFadden, Labour’s National Campaign Coordinator, claimed appointing Cameron as Foreign Secretary "put to bed" the claim Sunak was the "change" prime minister. 

"A few weeks ago Rishi Sunak said David Cameron was part of a failed status quo, now he’s bringing him back as his life raft," he said. 

"This puts to bed the Prime Minister's laughable claim to offer change from 13 years of Tory failure," he added. 

In 2021, Cameron was plunged in to controversey after he tried to get Greensill Capital, a lobbying firm, to join a Corporate Covid Financing Facility (CCFF).

This would have enabled Greensill to receive large amounts of money during lockdown. BBC Panorama obtained a letter which suggested he made £3.29m, despite Cameron never publicaly stating how much he earnt from the company. 

Cameron was accused of using Government ministers to get preferential treatment for Greensill to make money. He would go on to defend his actions, saying "Lobbying itself is a necessary and healthy part of our democratic process.".

In addition, Cameron recently criticised Sunak after the Prime Minister cancelled the Northern leg of HS2. He posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, that the decision would help fuel "the views of those who argue that we can no longer think or act for the long-term as a country; that we are heading in the wrong direction."

"I regret this decision and in years to come I suspect many will look back at today’s announcement and wonder how this once-in-a-generation opportunity was lost," he added. 

Cameron also said the Gaza Strip was a "prison camp" in 2010. The former prime minister also disagreed with the Government's decision to cut foreign aid from 0.7 per cent to 0.5 per cent as a "temporary" measure. 

In a statement at the time, he said "the questions are: do we care, do we act, and do we lead?

"The promise of 0.7 meant that we - Global Britain - answered 'yes' to all three. And that's a promise worth keeping," he added.

One former cabinet minister said they respected Cameron hugely and claimed he was a statesman. However, they questioned how he would be made accountable to backbenchers in the House of Commons. 

They added the reshuffle was the "last chance" for Sunak, and added the situation for the Conservatives was "deeply depressing" given where the party was in 2019 after Boris Johnson won a 80-seat majority. 

Savanta polling found that just 24 per cent of British adults had a favourable of Cameron. Its research stated that two-fifths of Conservative 2019 voters felt favourable towards the former prime minister, compared to 32 per cent who viewed him unfavourably.

Chris Hopkins, Political Research Director at Savanta, said while Cameron has been in the political wilderness for seven years, the former prime minister is still not particularly popular with the public. 

“David Cameron's appointment as the new Foreign Secretary has raised plenty of eyebrows and caught many by surprise this morning, but this data implies it perhaps isn't the wisest of moves from Sunak in terms of public opinion," he said.

Cameron on Monday said the Prime Minister asked him to be made Foreign Secretary and he "gladly accepted".  

He claimed the UK was facing "dautning" international challenges, including the war in Ukraine and the war between Israel and Hamas. Cameron claimed it had "rarely been more important" for the UK to stand by his allies. 

"I believe in public service. That is what first motivated me to get involved in politics in the 1980s, to work in government in the 1990s, become a Member of Parliament in the 2000s and put myself forward as Party Leader and Prime Minister," he said. 

"The UK’s Foreign Office, our Diplomatic Service, our Intelligence Services and our Aid and Development capabilities are some of the finest assets of their kind anywhere in the world.

"I know from my time in office that they are staffed by brilliant, patriotic and hard-working people. They have been well led by James Cleverly, with whom I look forward to working in his vital new role," he added.

Cameron said although he disagreed with some decisions taken by Sunak, he claimed it was clear the Prime Minister was showing "exemplary leadership at a difficult time".

Theresa May, who served under Cameron as home secretary for six years, congratulated him on being appointed as foreign secretary by Sunak. She claimed his "immense" experience will be invaluable for the UK on the global stage and added she was looking forward to working with him again. 

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