NOTTINGHAM, England: Former prime minister David Cameron’s return as foreign secretary in Rishi Sunak’s government was surprising, to say the least. Only four former prime ministers have gone on to serve again in government, and none since Alec Douglas-Home returned as foreign secretary under Edward Heath in 1970.
Sunak surely has more in mind than some shocked headlines, but working out the strategic thinking behind the move is perplexing for two reasons. First because Cameron is not a particularly popular politician. Second because, even setting that aside, he is the wrong kind of person to bring back to serve the Conservative strategy that has the best chance of working at the next general election.
It is difficult to pin down how the public felt about Cameron just prior to his resignation in 2016, because there was such a febrile atmosphere at the time. The Brexit referendum, in which Cameron was one of the faces of the Remain campaign, coloured everything.
However, we know that a few months before the referendum he had worse favourability ratings than Jeremy Corbyn, Labour leader of the time.
Expert surveys also concluded at the time that Cameron was among the worst post-war prime ministers, below even the crisis-stricken Gordon Brown and Heath. More to the point, asked about his return as foreign secretary, just 24 per cent of the public believe it was a good decision.