I realised that Russia had invaded Ukraine, back in 2022, when I woke up to a text from a friend that read “so, World War 3 it is then”. It wasn’t the first time I’d learnt about major breaking news in this way; I’m a late riser, meaning that the people in my life are usually out and about, reading the news and Whatsapping away, long before I’ve left my bed.
I woke up this morning to a text from a friend wishing me a happy reshuffle, which was both a nice note and quite the indictment of the nerdiness of my social circles. Suella Braverman had already gone by that point, so I went to make myself a coffee then sat back in bed, glued to the artist formerly known as Twitter.
James Cleverly appointed as home secretary? Fine. That was news I could deal with. It didn’t feel like the shrewdest move, as he had been doing a good enough job as foreign secretary – and it is a rather busy gig at the moment – but worse appointments have been made.
Rumours were swirling that John Glen, chief secretary to the Treasury, would replace him. He isn’t exactly an inspiring figure so would have been an odd pick for diplomat-in-chief but, again, nothing to really write home about.
Then it happened. At first, it was a screengrab from the news of a man walking into No10. After that it was tweets, all of them vaguely worded, almost spoken in hushed tones. Could he…? Was he really about to…? Finally, it got announced. David Cameron, former Prime Minister, is now back in politics, serving as foreign secretary.
It is, if you are in the mood for a fun fact, only his second job in government, seeing as he became PM from opposition then left the Commons. He is the first minister to hold a great office of state from the House of Lords since Lord Carrington, who left the Foreign Office in 1982. Speaking of which, his appointment was not vetted by the House of Lords Appointments Commission, which is probably good news for him as it is not clear that he would have been successful.
Something else you may wish to know is that there is a meeting of NATO’s foreign ministers at the end of the month, meaning that we’re about to be on the receiving end of some pictures of David Cameron meeting European politicians in Brussels. What was that about doing the time warp again?
The move has already been celebrated by pundits believing that it could bring “blue wall” voters back to the Conservatives, but I’m unconvinced. Centrist remainers who used to vote Tory do not have the memories of goldfish; they know why they became “remainers” in the first place, and whose fault it is that there was a referendum to begin with. It seems unlikely that they are ready to forgive the man who broke everything then walked away whistling.
It also feels like a puzzling move given the former PM’s leanings on foreign policy. He tried, in his time in No10, to get Britain closer to China, and was lobbying for Chinese interests in the Indo-Pacific only a few months ago. He will either have to pivot very significantly, or find himself drawing the ire of the hawks in his party and elsewhere.
A return to Parliament also means that he will have to declare more of his interests, which is great news for journalists everywhere, but should probably be a worry for him. Still, ol’ Baron Cameron had apparently been bored beyond belief, and trying to get the foreign secretary gig since at least 2018. Roughly 17 MPs have been Prime Minister since then, and one of them was bound to crack and let him have a go.
It isn’t clear that it was a wise move for Sunak, at least in the long run. It is true that the news of Dave’s return overshadowed Suella Braverman’s exit from government, but that is only one day’s worth of headlines. The PM already struggles to make himself look like a competent and authoritative leader, and bringing back his predecessor into the fold is unlikely to change that.
Then again, perhaps none of this matters. Old characters are being brought back to the show and plot lines are beginning to look increasingly far-fetched. That’s what usually happens when a network is about to cancel a sitcom for good.