On Monday 13 November 2023, Home Secretary Suella Braverman was sacked and replaced by Foreign Secretary James Cleverly. On that same day, austerity-era Prime Minister David Cameron was named as Britain’s new Foreign Secretary amid a cabinet reshuffling by the UK’s current Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak. Yes, you read that right, and no, it’s not 2010 again. I checked…
But what has Cameron even been up to in the last seven years? Interestingly enough, the former PM has actually gotten up to quite a bit while vacationing across the Caribbean. Here’s a full breakdown of everything we should know about the returning Tory.
From 2010 to 2016, Cameron served as Prime Minister of the UK and as the leader of the Conservative Party from 2005 to 2016. Cameron infamously introduced the Brexit referendum to decide on the UK’s continued future in the European Union. Despite advocating for continued EU membership, he resigned following the Leave vote’s success, paving the way for then-Home Secretary Theresa May to replace him. Thus, his comeback to a high political office came as a shock to many.
“The Prime Minister has asked me to serve as his Foreign Secretary and I have gladly accepted,” Cameron stated on X, formerly Twitter. “While I have been out of front-line politics for the last seven years, I hope that my experience – as Conservative Leader for eleven years and Prime Minister for six – will assist me in helping the Prime Minister to meet these vital challenges,” his statement continued.
Since his resignation in 2016, Cameron has maintained a relatively low profile. That being said, the former Prime Minister has had a recent scandal or two. In March 2021, it was reported that, in the previous year, Cameron had lobbied Sunak, who at the time was the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to change rules to allow Greensill Capital to join the Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF), a government loan scheme that was initiated to support companies during the pandemic-related economic recession.
Greensill was a UK and Australia-based financial services company that became insolvent in 2021, and Cameron served as a special advisor to the firm. The scandal sparked widespread controversy and led to an official independent probe into the politician.
In October 2023, Cameron also returned to the headlines when he publically stated that Sunak’s decision to cancel the HS2 high-speed train line between Birmingham and Manchester was wrong. Contrary to Sunak, Cameron was also in support of the UK retaining its commitment to spending 0.7 per cent of gross national income on international aid.
Cameron previously addressed some of these disagreements with Sunak in another statement on X.
“Though I may have disagreed with some individual decisions, it is clear to me that Rishi Sunak is a strong and capable Prime Minister, who is showing exemplary leadership at a difficult time. I want to help him to deliver the security and prosperity our country needs and be part of the strongest possible team that serves the United Kingdom and that can be presented to the country when the General Election is held,” he stated on Monday.
While Cameron’s unexpected return to government might come as a shock to many voters, those close to the Tory have probably seen this move coming. According to The Guardian, Cameron told some friends in 2018 that he was planning to return to frontline politics, preferably as Foreign Secretary. Netizens, however, were reluctant to welcome back the politician with open arms.
“Has the Greensill cash run out?” one X user asked. “So, an absolute loser brings back the absolute loser that gave him his seat,” someone else stated. “Forgive me, but this undermines our entire, whatever was really left of it, democratic political structure and process,” another user critiqued.
The prospect of an older leader reinvigorating foreign policies and bringing about positive change in a new cabinet is already a challenging reality for people to envision. What’s worse is that Cameron has an incredibly dicey track record—particularly in regard to the economy. Amid a raging cost of living crisis, it’s no wonder people are quite literally freaking out.
Whether or not Cameron’s return will be a successful one remains to be seen. However, it does feel as though Sunak’s cabinet is going backwards, rather than forwards.