- Former prime minister’s shock comeback divides party
- Braverman’s exit follows her criticism of London police
- Prime Minister Sunak is trying to appease traditional supporters
- Braverman criticized the police over pro-Palestinian protests
LONDON, Nov 13 (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak brought former leader David Cameron back as foreign secretary on Monday in a reshuffle triggered by his sacking of Home Secretary Suella Braverman after her criticism of the police threatened his authority.
It was the latest reset for a prime minister whose party is lagging badly behind Labor ahead of an election expected next year. Cameron’s return suggested Sunak wanted to bring in a more centrist, experienced hand rather than appease the right to his party, which supported Braverman.
It also sparks divisive debate over Brexit: Cameron held the 2016 referendum on EU membership and was hated by many on the right of the party after campaigning to remain. He resigned hours after Britain voted to leave.
Under fire from opposition lawmakers and members of the ruling Conservative Party to oust Braverman, Sunak appeared to have carried out a long-planned reshuffle to bring in allies and remove ministers he believed were not performing.
His hand was forced when the perennially controversial Braverman defied him last week in an unauthorized article accusing police of “double standards” at protests, suggesting they were tough on right-wing protesters but easy on pro-Palestinian marchers.
The opposition Labor Party said it sparked tensions between a pro-Palestinian rally and a far-right counter-protest on Saturday, when nearly 150 people were arrested.
Although her dismissal was not a surprise, it was the appointment of Cameron that caused shockwaves in the Conservative Party, welcomed by more centrist lawmakers but loathed by some on the right who described it as the ultimate “Brexit surrender “.
Cameron said he was delighted 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 our voices heard “.
“While 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.
Cameron has been out of politics since 2016 and will be able to return to government via an appointment to the House of Lords, the upper house of parliament.
Lawmakers in the center wing of the party said Cameron’s appointment would bring international experience and send a broader message to the country.
“It’s a sign to Tory blue wall and moderate voters, we’re not moving to the right,” said one Conservative lawmaker, using a phrase used to describe traditional Conservative-supporting areas in the south of England.
Some lawmakers had feared Braverman was determined to recast the Conservatives as the “ugly party” with her hardline focus on immigration and social issues, a label former prime minister Theresa May used in 2002 to try to persuade the party to drop her reputation for being. do not care.
But Cameron’s return heightened the anger felt by some on the right after her sacking. They said Braverman’s stance on how police handled protests was correct and predicted she would remain a vocal force.
Some Brexit supporters also said Cameron’s role in the Brexit vote meant the so-called “remain” wing of the party had taken over.
James Cleverly, former Secretary of State, was appointed to replace her. He is seen as a safe pair of hands and was quick to say his new role was “to keep the people of this country safe”.
With Braverman on the sidelines, her attention may focus on preparing for a possible future race for party leader if the Conservatives lose the expected election next year, as polls suggest.
The Labor Party has consistently held a lead of around 20 points in the polls and Sunak has failed to close that gap.
He tried to relaunch himself as a representative of “change” at his party’s conference last month when his message was overshadowed by a poorly communicated decision to cancel part of the country’s biggest rail project.
Labor had called Sunak weak since Braverman’s article was published on Wednesday. Now opposition lawmakers said his decision to appoint Cameron was an act of desperation.
Lawmaker Pat McFadden, Labour’s national campaign co-ordinator, said: “A few weeks ago Rishi Sunak said David Cameron was part of a failed status quo, now he’s bringing him back as his lifeline.”
“This adds to the Prime Minister’s ridiculous claim to offer change from 13 years of Tory failure.”
Reporting by Elizabeth Piper, Andrew MacAskill, Alistair Smout, Sachin Ravikumar, Kylie MacLellan, Sarah Young; Editing by Kate Holton and Andrew Cawthorne
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