Sunak's Unexpected Move: The Return of David Cameron to Politics Sparks Questions

Cameron is, of course, best known as the prime minister who called the 2016 Brexit referendum

by Sededin Dedovic
Sunak's Unexpected Move: The Return of David Cameron to Politics Sparks Questions
© Carl Court / Getty Images

Since assuming the role of British Prime Minister just over a year ago, Rishi Sunak has been diligently working to restore order to the tumultuous government he inherited, according to a CNN analysis. The economic aftermath of Liz Truss's policies had witnessed the pound plummeting to historic lows against the dollar, double-digit inflation, and rising interest rates.

Moreover, Sunak's Conservative Party was grappling with the aftermath of Boris Johnson's pre-Tras prime ministership, marked by scandal, public outrage, and dismal poll ratings. Despite his efforts to stabilize the political landscape, Sunak faced challenges in crafting a compelling narrative about his political identity and the brand of conservatism he represents.

In a surprising move on Monday, Sunak reshaped the government by appointing former Prime Minister David Cameron as the new foreign secretary, a decision that raised eyebrows across Westminster. This decision followed the dismissal of Home Secretary Suella Braverman, a right-wing figure within the party who had recently stirred controversy by labeling pro-Palestinian demonstrations as "hate marches" and characterizing homelessness as a "lifetime choice." David Cameron, known for calling the Brexit referendum in 2016, emerged as a central figure in the Conservative Party, advocating for a pro-green, pro-social reform, centrist liberal conservatism.

However, the shock decision to leave the EU led to Cameron's resignation the day after the referendum, leaving space for right-leaning figures like Braverman to exert influence over the party. The conventional wisdom had initially suggested that Sunak might be too weak to replace Braverman, despite her outspoken stance on controversial issues and perceived ambitions to replace Sunak in the event of an electoral loss.

The appointment of Cameron and the removal of Braverman, however, indicates a potential shift in Sunak's political strategy, distancing himself from the divisive culture wars and rhetoric associated with Johnson, Trass, and Braverman.

Steering his government back toward the center might appear prudent, given the Conservative Party's persistently poor poll results and public weariness of tumultuous politics. However, Sunak faces the daunting task of reconciling this shift with a divided party, where MPs, members, and voters hold diverse opinions and allegiances.

Navigating this internal landscape will undoubtedly pose a significant challenge for Sunak as he seeks to establish his leadership in a politically charged environment.