In a surprising turn of events, former UK Prime Minister David Cameron has made a political comeback, taking on the role of Foreign Minister in the British government. The unexpected move came during a ministerial reshuffle triggered by the dismissal of Home Secretary Suella Braverman. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, in an effort to revitalize the Conservative Party’s standing in the polls, appointed Cameron to succeed James Cleverly as Foreign Minister.
This strategic reshuffling appears to be a gesture by Sunak to appeal to the liberal electorate that may not have been supportive of Brexit. Anand Menon, director of the think tank UK in Changing Europe, sees it as a move aimed at breathing new life into the Conservatives, who have been trailing behind the Labour Party in polls leading up to the legislative elections.
While the precise circumstances of Cameron’s return to government remain unclear, he expressed enthusiasm for the position, citing the current “international challenges” and “profound global changes.” The news was well-received in European capitals, with French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna expressing optimism about collaboration between the two countries during this “unique moment” in international affairs.
The reversal of fortune for the 57-year-old former Prime Minister is unprecedented, considering his withdrawal from British politics after the 2016 Brexit vote. Cameron, who resigned following the historic miscalculation of underestimating the Brexit vote, spent seven years away from the political scene. During this period, he held various advisory roles for international charities and consulted for different commissions.
In 2020, Cameron faced controversy over his ties to Greenshill Capital, a fund that went bankrupt shortly after his involvement as a lobbyist. His efforts to secure public assistance for Greenshill before its collapse raised eyebrows and brought attention to his lobbying activities.
To appoint Cameron as Foreign Minister, Sunak had to navigate around the convention that only elected Members of Parliament can join the government. Since Cameron has not been an MP since 2016, he was urgently appointed to the House of Lords to assume the unprecedented position.
This unique circumstance raises concerns, as Cameron will not be accountable to the House of Commons in the same way a Foreign Minister typically would. This situation parallels the recent appointment of David Frost as Secretary of State for Brexit in 2021, creating a notable precedent for non-elected officials assuming high-ranking government positions. The fact that the current UK Prime Minister had to seek out Cameron, who was not an MP, despite having over 300 elected MPs in his party, underscores a potential crisis in leadership, suggesting a perceived lack of competency among the current Conservative MPs.