David Cameron has made a dramatic return to the British Government as foreign secretary following a reshufflement triggered by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s decision to sack Suella Braverman from the Home Office.
The former prime minister replaced James Cleverly as foreign secretary and would be given a peerage that is a seat in the upper chamber, the House of Lords.
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Cleverly takes on the job of home secretary after Sunak ended Braverman’s controversial tenure in the job.
Sacking one of the leading figures on the Conservative right could pose difficulties for the prime minister as he seeks to get his party united behind him.
He would be ready for a general election, expected next year.
The appointment of Cameron was a massive shock in Westminster.
The shock was not just because of the return of a former prime minister to government the first since Alec Douglas-Home but also because of his views on China.
During the Cameron administration, there was a “golden era” of UK-China co-operation, something Sunak described as “naive” last year following growing tensions with Beijing.
Cameron had also been critical of Sunak’s decision to scrap the northern leg of HS2, the high-speed rail project.
The prime minister used his Conservative conference speech to distance himself from the legacy of his predecessors.
But the former prime minister made clear he backed Sunak and would work with him to help the Conservatives win the general election expected next year.
“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,’’ the new foreign secretary said.
“I want to help him to deliver the security and prosperity our country needs and be part of the strongest possible team that serves the United Kingdom and that can be presented to the country when the general election is held.”
Ominously for Sunak, Braverman said she would have “more to say in due course” about her exit, which followed rows over comments about homeless people and the policing of pro-Palestinian marches.
Braverman said: “It has been the greatest privilege of my life to serve as home secretary.”
Former minister Andrea Jenkyns said Braverman had been “sacked for speaking the truth and it was a bad call by Rishi caving in to the left.”
News of Braverman’s exit came as Defence Minister James Heappey was touring broadcast studios.
Minutes before she was sacked, he had told LBC that Sunak and his team in No 10 had been “very clear she (Braverman) has his confidence.
“In that sense, one would imagine that she will continue.”
But he was told on air during an ITV “Good Morning Britain’’ interview that she had been sacked.
“Your viewers will be enjoying my discomfort, but it is in this case difficult to offer commentary when I just don’t know what is going on.”
Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey said: “Suella Braverman was never fit to be home secretary. Rishi Sunak knew this and he still appointed her.
“It was the prime minister’s sheer cowardice that kept her in the job even for this long.
“We are witnessing a broken party and a broken government, both of which are breaking this country.”
In his first comments in the new role, cleverly said it was an honour to be appointed as Home Secretary.
“The goal is clear. My job is to keep people in this country safe,” he said.
In the junior ranks, Will Quince and Neil O’Brien both quit as health ministers, while veteran schools minister Nick Gibb also left his post.