Last Updated: November 13, 2023, 18:27 IST
London, United Kingdom (UK)
In a surprise Cabinet reshuffle, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Monday sacked Home Secretary Suella Braverman and appointed former UK leader David Cameron as foreign secretary. The incumbent Foreign Secretary James Cleverly made way for Cameron as he took over as the new Secretary of the State for the Home Department.
The Conservative party said PM Sunak’s cabinet shakeup intends to strengthen his team in Government to deliver long-term decisions for a brighter future. His return comes amid a broader shake-up that saw Indian-origin Braverman’s dismissal as home secretary after she criticised the police’s handling of a pro-Palestinian march. Cameron’s reentry into politics is seen as a bold move by Sunak, and it has generated reactions from different factions of the Conservative party.
Who Is Suella Braverman, the Indian-Origin UK Home Minister Who Was Sacked Twice?
Braverman had stoked controversy throughout her tenure, taking a hardline stance on immigration in particular and regularly wading into so-called culture wars issues which are seen as dividing the electorate. However, her position became increasingly untenable after she last week wrote an explosive newspaper article, without Sunak’s approval, accusing police of bias towards left-wing causes.
She did acknowledge that there were miscreants on both sides but her opinion piece in a UK newspaper may have “undermined the operational independence of – and public confidence in – the police”. The article was released days before the armistice day events which clashed with the 300,000-strong march seeking ceasefire in Palestine.
The UK government’s challenges to the migration policy and its lack of confidence that it may not get the Supreme Court’s backing on its plan to deport asylum-seekers to Rwanda also may have played a role.
Who is David Cameron: From Brexit Fallout PM to a Peerage and Shock Return to UK Govt
David Cameron, who served as the British PM from 2010 to 2016, accepted a peerage to join the government as the new foreign secretary ahead of a general election expected next year. Cameron quit as prime minister in 2016 after losing the Brexit referendum. He stood down as an MP the same year. He became mired in scandal in 2021, after lobbying the UK government for finance group Greensill Capital, which later collapsed and the episode was seen as badly tarnishing his reputation.
Cameron, 57, said he is making a comeback in the cabinet because he believes 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 in a long note on social media platform X.
The former leader said he “gladly accepted” the role as Britain faced “a daunting set of international challenges”. “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,” Cameron added. Tim Bale, politics professor at London’s Queen Mary University, said Sunak was likely drawn to Cameron’s “clout on the international stage” and hoped to appeal to increasingly dissatisfied centrist and centre-right voters.
Labour Party and Other Reactions
The Labour said reshuffle shows Sunak’s claim to be offering change is ‘laughable’. Labour’s Pat McFadden said, “Reshuffling the Ministers won’t change the Tory record over the past 13 years. It won’t make any difference to the cost of living or to public services. The only way to bring about change is to get rid of this failed Tory Government.”
“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. This puts to bed the prime minister’s laughable claim to offer a change from 13 years of Tory failure,” he added.
Theresa May, who was Home Secretary in Cameron’s government before herself becoming Prime Minister, has welcomed the former prime minister’s return as Foreign Secretary. “His immense experience on the international stage will be invaluable at this time of great uncertainty in our world,” she writes. “Looking forward to working together again!”
(With agency inputs)