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Sunak’s desperate cabinet reshuffle is unlikely to pay off

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak reshuffled his ministerial team on Monday, including bringing back former leader David Cameron, seen here, as foreign minister.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak reshuffled his ministerial team on Monday, including bringing back former leader David Cameron, seen here, as foreign minister.

Reuters

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak engaged in a stunning game of political musical chairs on Monday, unexpectedly breathing new life into the career of David Cameron – who, as prime minister, enabled the Brexit referendum.

Sunak sacked Suella Braverman as home secretary, shifting James Cleverly — who was foreign secretary — into the role, and now, seven years after leaving Downing Street, Cameron returns as the UK’s top diplomat.


Not an easy gig: Cameron becomes foreign secretary amid an array of global crises, with Russia’s war against Ukraine, growing tensions between the West and China, and the Israel-Hamas war topping the list. He has his work cut out for him, but with a strong record of support for Ukraine and Israel, he’s unlikely to shift the government’s approach in a drastic way.

What this means: It’s curious that Sunak would choose Cameron — a former leader who resigned after failing to get Brits to reject Brexit — as a top cabinet member, particularly with a national election looming before January 2025. That said, Cameron is a moderate with years of political and diplomatic experience. It could be a signal that Sunak is pushing his government toward the center ahead of the general election, as polling shows Conservatives trailing far behind Labour.

But, as things stand, creating distance from Braverman while pulling in Cameron is probably not enough to save the Tories. A snap YouGov poll found that 57% of British adults believe Sunak was right to sack Braverman, while just 24% said it was a good decision to appoint Cameron as foreign secretary.

Some analysts think Sunak’s move smacks of political desperation. The cabinet reshuffle “shows a government running on empty,” tweeted Mujtaba Rahman, managing director for Europe at Eurasia Group.

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