This article first appeared on the Telegraph website HERE.
As Sir Alex Ferguson might have said: “Politics. Bloody Hell.” There’s nothing a prime minister likes more than to spring a reshuffle surprise, and boy did Rishi Sunak achieve that this morning with the appointment of David Cameron as Foreign Secretary. Political journalists were caught on the hop, given not a single journalist had predicted it, and no one in Downing Street had leaked.
Sunak has for some time been determined to shake things up and do things differently. Well, this appointment certainly achieves that, although it hardly meets the objective of portraying himself as the agent of change. And that has already become Labour’s attack line.
David Cameron has barely intervened in British politics since he left office as prime minister more than seven years ago. He took on a few outside interests in the business world and became chairman of Alzheimer’s Society. But he has been bored. Very bored. The Greensill affair depressed him and was incredibly damaging to his judgement and reputation.
David Cameron was only ever loved by a comparatively small part of the Conservative party, but apart from the odd recalcitrant who never reconciled themselves to his leadership anyway. For moderate, centrist, fiscally conservative, socially liberal Conservatives like me, it’s a good day. Losing Suella Braverman and gaining David Cameron is a huge plus both for the government and the country. Cameron was a serious player on the international scene and still commands respect. James Cleverly had done a decent job, and will be disappointed to be moved. He shouldn’t be. Anyone who has been both Foreign and Home Secretary immediately becomes a serious player in any future leadership contest.
No doubt there will be those who don’t approve of a senior cabinet minister operating from the House of Lords. But it’s happened before. Former prime minister Alex Douglas Home was Foreign Secretary under Edward Heath. And of course Margaret Thatcher’s Foreign Secretary, Peter Carrington was a member of the House of Lords.
It’s always good to see someone with experience and ‘bottom’ appointed to the cabinet. It’s happened too rarely in recent years. It may not be enough to save Rishi Sunak’s government from electoral defeat, but this is a good appointment.