David Cameron's return puts a grown-up at the heart of Rishi Sunak's team

Cameron was a six-year British prime minister who returned the Conservatives to office

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David Cameron used his LinkedIn account last week to make a rare post-ministerial intervention in UK politics, perhaps signalling that Rishi Sunak's government could take on the unfinished business of his 2010-16 administration.

Applauding a measure in the King's Speech to establish a Holocaust Memorial near the Houses of Parliament, Mr Cameron referred to the row engulfing Westminster on how to respond to the fallout from the Israel-Gaza conflict.

"At a time when the scourge of anti-Semitism, prejudice and intolerance are very sadly on the rise, the need for this national memorial has never been more vital," Mr Cameron wrote.

"Today’s announcement takes us a step closer to making this a reality and fulfilling the promise I made almost a decade ago."

Mr Cameron was a one-and-a-bit term British prime minister who returned the Conservatives to office after "detoxifying" the political brand, but for the first five years only in a coalition with the Liberal Democrats. Having won a majority in 2015, he suffered the humiliation of losing a referendum on Brexit that he had called to cement the Conservatives grip on power.

Four Conservative prime ministers then followed, with Rishi Sunak the latest to take the reins late last year.

Out of office, Mr Cameron was a passionate campaigner for Alzheimer’s Research and spearheaded an initiative on failing states at the Council on State Fragility at International Growth Centre.

In January he accepted a teaching position at New York University Abu Dhabi to lecture students on politics in the age of disruption during a three-week course.

A moderate in the party, Mr Cameron was born into privilege and went to the elite Eton school. He was a promising student of politics and economics at Oxford and then worked as a press officer for then-Conservative leader Michael Howard before becoming an MP in 2001.

In a statement on Monday, he referred to his seven year absence from the political front line and even some recent public criticism of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, notably the decision to scrap the High Speed rail project in northern England. "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 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."

As prime minister, Cameron ordered military intervention in Libya, when Britain and its allies led international efforts to help oust then-leader Muammar Gaddafi in early 2011.

Cameron is not a serving MP so has been made a Lord for his ministerial role. The appointment of Lord Cameron was unseen move for almost all in Westminster, 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 Mr Sunak described as “naive” last year following growing tensions with Beijing.

The last foreign secretary to serve from the Lords was Lord Carrington, who resigned on a matter of principle during the Falklands War before going on to become Nato Secretary General. If Development Minister Andrew Mitchell stays on it is expected he will answer questions in the Commons for the foreign secretary.

The move also revives memories of the personalities involved in the course of Brexit as the referendum campaign got underway. Some of his most loyal lieutenants including justice minister Michael Gove -- godfather to one of Cameron's children -- said they would campaign for Brexit.

James Cleverly is new UK Home Secretary after Suella Braverman sacked

James Cleverly is new UK Home Secretary after Suella Braverman sacked

Then Boris Johnson, who went on to become prime minister but who at the time was London mayor, sprung a surprise by also backing "Leave". Mr Johnson was an Eton contemporary of Mr Cameron and the pair were not natural allies.

During the campaign, Mr Cameron led from the front with a barrage of speeches arguing that Britain's economy would be badly hit by Brexit. The "Leave" camp's counter argument that immigration from EU countries needed to be cut to reduce the strain on public services, was the one that resonated most with voters.

Updated: November 13, 2023, 11:43 AM