Former Prime Minister David Cameron appointed U.K. Foreign Secretary

James Cleverly replaces Suella Braverman as U.K. Home Secretary; ex-PM David Cameron back in govt as new Foreign Secretary

November 13, 2023 04:04 pm | Updated 10:34 pm IST - London

Britain’s former Prime Minister and newly appointed Foreign Secretary David Cameron walks outside 10 Downing Street in London, on November 13, 2023.

Britain’s former Prime Minister and newly appointed Foreign Secretary David Cameron walks outside 10 Downing Street in London, on November 13, 2023. | Photo Credit: Reuters

Returning from Deepavali celebrations in his hometown of Southampton, U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak kicked off the week by reshuffling his Cabinet on Monday morning, sacking controversial Home Secretary Suella Braverman and resurrecting the political career of former U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, whom he appointed Foreign Secretary. Former (outgoing) Foreign Secretary James Cleverly was appointed Home Secretary.

Ms. Braverman’s history of provocative statements including her latest allegations of bias in the Metropolitan Police over their handling of pro-Palestinian protests, which she referred to as “hate marches”, had increased pressure on Mr. Sunak to fire her.

Monday’s moves, which were reminiscent of the political chaos last year, when the country saw three Prime Ministers in the span of a few months, continued well into the afternoon with Tory divisions playing out live on media as appointments and departures continued to be announced.

Mr. Cameron was made ‘Lord Cameron‘ , a life peer (member of the House of Lords) on Monday, as members of the British government are normally also members of one of the U.K. Houses of Parliament. Although he had been away from active politics for seven years, his experience as Prime Minister and Conservative Party leader would help him in assisting Mr. Sunak meet “vital” global challenges, Mr. Cameron said.

“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. I want to help him to deliver the security and prosperity,” Mr. Cameron wrote in a lengthy statement posted on X. He had recently criticised Mr. Sunak’s decision to cancel the remainder of the High Speed Rail 2 project in the North of England.

Mr. Cameron’s tenure as Prime Minister between 2010 and 2016 was most noted for the deeply divisive Brexit referendum which resulted in the U.K. leaving the E.U. In a more recent controversy, BBC Panorama had reported in 2021 that Mr. Cameron had received approximately $10 million in return for promoting discredited finance company Greensill Capital. Mr. Cameron also continues to be criticised for his close ties with the Chinese government, having presided over a different era (a “golden era” as per his then Chancellor George Osborne) of U.K.-China ties when he was Prime Minister.

‘More to say’ : Braverman

After news of her sacking spread, Ms. Braverman said it was the highest privilege of her life to have served as Home Secretary.

“I will have more to say in due course,” she said, according to news agency PA Media.

The former minister’s track record of controversial comments include remarks made earlier this month that many homeless people were living in tents as a “lifestyle choice”. In October 2022 , Ms. Braverman, the daughter of migrants of Indian descent from Africa, had said it was her “dream” and “obsession” to see asylum seekers being taken in a flight from the U.K. to Rwanda. Her comments on Indian citizens comprising the largest group of overstayers in the U.K. ruffled feathers in the Indian government, complicating trade talks between the two countries.

The criticism of Ms. Braverman is not uniform across her party, however, and she continues to enjoy support from the right flank of the Conservative Party — including from members of the backbench Common Sense Group and the New Conservatives. There is also speculation that the former Home Secretary may have her eye on the top job at No. 10 Downing Street. Significantly, the U.K. Supreme Court will rule on the legality of the Rwanda policy on Wednesday.

Even with Ms. Braverman out, the Home Office will continue to seek to reduce illegal migration in line with the Sunak government policy.

“The goal is clear. My job is to keep people in this country safe,” Mr. Cleverly said in his new post. He said he was “absolutely committed” to another one of the Conservative government’s pet projects — stopping boats carrying migrants across the English Channel from arriving in the U.K.

Other changes made by Mr. Sunak involved appointing former Financial Secretary Victoria Atkins as Health Secretary, replacing Steve Barclay who in turn replaced Thérèse Coffey as Environment Secretary.

“New titles, same old Tories,” London’s (Labour) Mayor Sadiq Khan wrote as he called for a general election to be held now. The U.K. is heading towards the polls with Mr. Sunak required to call elections before January 2025.

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