British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak brought back former leader David Cameron as foreign minister on Monday in a reshuffle triggered by his firing of interior minister Suella Braverman after her criticism of police threatened his authority.
It was the latest reset for a prime minister whose party is badly lagging the Labour Party before an election expected next year. The return of Cameron suggested Sunak wanted to bring in more centrist, experienced hands rather than appease the right of his party which supported Braverman.
It also awakens divisive debate over Brexit: Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, which Cameron triggered by holding a referendum in 2016 even though he backed staying in the bloc.
Under fire from opposition lawmakers and members of the governing Conservative Party to eject Braverman, Sunak seemed to have brought forward a long-planned reshuffle to bring in allies and remove ministers he felt were not performing.
His hand was forced when the ever-controversial Braverman defied him last week in an unauthorised article accusing police of “double standards” at protests, suggesting they were tough on right-wing demonstrators, but easy on pro-Palestinian marchers.
The opposition Labour Party said that inflamed tensions between a pro-Palestinian demonstration and a far-right counter protest on Saturday, when nearly 150 people were arrested.
While her removal was not a surprise, it was the appointment of Cameron which caused shock in the Conservative Party, welcomed by more centrist lawmakers but hated by some of the right who described it as the ultimate “Brexit surrender”.
Cameron said he was glad to take on his new role because at a time of global change, “it has rarely been more important for this country to stand by our allies, strengthen our partnerships and make sure our voice is heard.
“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,” he wrote on X, formerly Twitter.