LONDON, ENGLAND – JUNE 19: Former British Prime Minister David Cameron leaves after giving evidence at the Covid-19 inquiry on June 19, 2023 in London, England. The UK Covid-19 Inquiry is examining the UK’s response to and impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and learning lessons for the future. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
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LONDON – Former U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron was appointed foreign secretary Monday in a sweeping reshuffle of current Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s cabinet.
Cameron was seen walking into No. 10 — the official residence and office of the British prime minister — to meet with Sunak, following the abrupt sacking of Suella Braverman as interior minister.
Cameron served as prime minister from 2010 to 2016 and presided over Britain’s controversial Brexit vote, which ultimately led to his resignation.
He is the figurehead of an age of Conservative leadership that Sunak has previously heavily lambasted. In a conference speech in October, Sunak positioned himself as the U.K.’s “change” candidate, decrying the prior 30 years of British politics — through which the Tories governed for around two-thirds — as a failure.
David Cameron, UK foreign secretary, departs 10 Downing Street after being appointed in London, UK, on Monday, Nov. 13, 2023.
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A royal decree eased Cameron’s return to the political fold. Under British law, only current MPs or members of the House of Lords can become government ministers. Cameron quit as a Member of Parliament in 2016, but King Charles III confirmed him as a life peer on Monday, raising him as a lord and enabling him to assume the role of foreign secretary.
Cameron was viewed as fervently pro-China during his leadership and spent time afterwards trying to set up a $1 billion U.K.-China investment fund — a plan which was later shelved. It is currently unclear how his foreign policy agenda will adapt against a backdrop of increased Sino skepticism among Western nations and ongoing conflict in Ukraine and the Middle East.
“We are facing a daunting set of international challenges, including the war in Ukraine and the crisis in the Middle East,” Cameron said in a statement.
“At this time of profound global change, it has rarely been more important for this country to stand by our allies, strengthen our partnerships and make sure our voice is heard.”
The reshuffle comes as Sunak attempts to reassert his authority, with his ruling Conservative Party trailing opposition Labour by more than 20 points in opinion polls ahead of a general election due before January 2025.
Speculation over Braverman’s dismissal arose last week after an op-ed she penned was published in The Times newspaper, ignoring guidance from Downing Street and accusing London police of political bias in policing protests.
The former interior minister has long been a controversial figure, attracting criticism over her plans to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda and her comments describing homelessness as a “lifestyle choice.
James Cleverly, who formerly served as foreign secretary, was appointed Braverman’s successor. Meanwhile, Environment Minister Therese Coffey resigned amid a series of high level departures.
Steve Barclay, former health minister, was announced as Coffey’s replacement, with Victoria Atkins taking his old job.
Finance Minister Jeremy Hunt remains in post ahead of next week’s Autumn Statement, which offers an update on the government’s plans for the economy.