David Cameron's Comeback Confirms Rishi Sunak Has All-But Given Up

Analysis: Making the former prime minister the new foreign secretary shows Downing Street has lost the plot.
David Cameron leaves 10 Downing Street after being appointed foreign secretary.
David Cameron leaves 10 Downing Street after being appointed foreign secretary.
Carl Court via Getty Images

It’s barely a month since Rishi Sunak told the Tory Party conference that he will be the candidate of change at the next election.

What’s more, he also took aim at “30 years of a political system that incentivises the easy decision, not the right one”.

So it is an indication of the confused thinking inside 10 Downing Street that the headline appointment of his cabinet reshuffle is a man who was prime minister from 2010 until 2016.

Bringing David Cameron back from the political wilderness to become foreign secretary is a sign that the prime minister has all-but given up any hope of winning the next election.

The best he can hope for is stemming the inevitable losses that are coming the Tories’ way in the hope that they are able to form a decent opposition.

Sacking Suella Braverman and resurrecting Cameron is intended as a signal to the electorate that the Conservatives are a moderate, centrist party that liberal, middle-of-the-road voters can be comfortable voting for.

It won’t be enough to stop the Tories losing power, the theory goes, but it might just bring back some Blue Wall voters in the south-west of England.

One astute former cabinet minister told HuffPost UK: “Dave will be an adult in the room, which otherwise is sadly lacking.

“But Sunak has trashed his reputation, not least with the ‘candidate of change’ crap and his handling of Suella, so there’s definitely no way back for him now.”

Putting Cameron in charge of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is also a puzzling decision.

During his six years in No.10, Cameron’s foreign policy achievements were few and far between.

As well as being responsible for setting the wheels in motion for Brexit, he also oversaw the UK’s disastrous intervention in Libya and was left humiliated when he failed to win parliament’s backing for military intervention in Syria.

While he will undoubtedly bring gravitas and experience to the role of being Britain’s chief diplomat, there is little to suggest that he will be any better in the job than his predecessor, James Cleverly, who replaces Braverman as home secretary.

Tacking to the centre ground shows that Sunak at least realises that the rightward path his party was on guaranteed electoral defeat.

But by shredding the strategy he only unveiled six weeks ago, he is simply confirming that the clock is ticking on his time in No.10.


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