David Cameron makes surprise return to government as foreign secretary

Former PM returns to frontline politics with life peerage as Rishi Sunak launches major cabinet reshuffle.

Key Points
  • David Cameron makes shock return to government as foreign secretary
  • Former PM given life peerage to allow him to take up the position
  • Rishi Sunak launches cabinet reshuffle after sacking Suella Braverman as home secretary
  • Braverman is replaced by former foreign secretary James Cleverly
  • Alister Jack to remain as Scottish Secretary

Former prime minister David Cameron has made a dramatic return to government as the new foreign secretary.

Cameron was given the job by Rishi Sunak on Monday morning after Suella Braverman was sacked as home secretary, sparking a wider Cabinet reshuffle.

It’s the first time an ex-PM has gone back into a ministerial role after leaving office since the 1970s.

According to a UK Government blog from November 2012, 14 ex-premiers have previously come back in a different government role since the 18th century.

The former Tory leader will be given a lifelong peerage to allow him to take up the position.

Before Braverman’s sacking, she had accused the Met Police of bias in favour of “pro-Palestinian mobs” in an unauthorised opinion column and had previously called homelessness a “lifestyle choice”.

She has been replaced by the previous foreign secretary James Cleverly, who was in return replaced by Cameron.

Therese Coffey meanwhile has left her role as environment secretary and has been replaced by health secretary Steve Barclay.

Following his appointment, Lord Cameron admitted that he hadn’t agreed with all of Sunak’s decisions.

In October, he criticised Sunak’s decision to scrap the northern leg of the HS2 rail project, which he said will “help to fuel the views of those who argue that we can no longer think or act for the long-term as a country”.

In a statement on Monday morning, he said: “While I have been out of front-line politics for the last seven years, I hope that my experience – as Conservative leader for 11 years and prime minister for six – will assist me in helping the Prime Minister to meet these vital challenges.

“Britain is a truly international country. Our people live all over the world and our businesses trade in every corner of the globe.

“Working to help ensure stability and security on the global stage is both essential and squarely in our national interest. International security is vital for our domestic security.

“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.”

David Cameron is remembered for calling the Brexit referendum but campaigning for the Remain side.iStock

Cameron, who was prime minister from 2010 until 2016, prompted surprise when he was seen entering Downing Street.

He joins the government at a key time as the Hamas-Israel war continues in the Middle East.

As foreign secretary, Cameron will form the UK’s response to the crisis.

As prime minister he called the Brexit referendum in which he campaigned for remaining in the EU.

Sunak’s reshuffle means that for the first time since 2010 the top four positions in government – Prime Minister, chancellor of the exchequer, home secretary and foreign secretary – are all held by men: Sunak, Jeremy Hunt, James Cleverly and David Cameron respectively.

Former prime minister Theresa May, who succeeded Cameron, said the new foreign secretary’s experience as leader will be “invaluable” on the world stage.

‘The last throw of the dice’

Opposition parties have criticised Sunak’s decision to appoint the former Tory leader after campaigning as a prime minister for change.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said Sunak had broken the “pretence of a ‘change’ Prime Minister” by “bringing back the old faces”.

He told STV News: “I think what’s clearer by the day is that this is the last throw of the dice of an end-of-days Tory party that is now ridden with division, right-wing nonsense, conspiracy theorists and the sooner we get the opportunity to get rid of the whole lot of them the better.”

The SNP’s Westminster deputy leader Mhairi Black said: “The fact that Rishi Sunak has had to resurrect David Cameron shows how tired this Tory government is.

“People in Scotland will be appalled that the architect of thirteen years of Tory austerity cuts, and the disastrous Brexit referendum, is back in government.”

Who’s in?

  • David Cameron becomes foreign secretary
  • James Cleverly made home secretary
  • Steve Barclay named as environmental secretary
  • Victoria Atkins chosen as new health secretary
  • Jeremy Hunt retains role as chancellor
  • Richard Holden appointed chair of Conservative Party
  • Laura Trott becomes Treasury chief secretary
  • Alister Jack remains Scottish Secretary

Who’s out?

  • Suella Braverman sacked as home secretary
  • Therese Coffey resigns from her role as environment secretary
  • Tory MP Rachel Maclean sacked as housing minister
  • Schools minister Nick Gibb resigns
  • Neil O’Brien quits role as health minister
  • Junior health minister Will Quince steps down
  • Jesse Norman quits as transport minister
  • George Freeman resigns as science minister
  • Jeremy Quin steps down as paymaster general
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