London: British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak sprung a surprise Cabinet reshuffle on Monday morning, starting by sacking Indian-origin Home Secretary Suella Braverman and bringing former prime minister David Cameron back into the government as his new Foreign Secretary.
"It has been the greatest privilege of my life to serve as Home Secretary. I will have more to say in due course," Braverman, 43, said in a brief statement, as it was announced that James Cleverly will be replacing her in the Cabinet, making way for Cameron, 54, as the new Foreign Secretary.
“The King has been pleased to approve the following government appointments: Rt Hon James Cleverly MP as Secretary of State for the Home Department; Rt Hon David Cameron as Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs,” a Downing Street statement said.
The reshuffle comes at a time when outgoing foreign secretary Cleverly was scheduled for bilateral talks with External Affairs Minister (EAM) S Jaishankar, who is in the UK for a five-day official visit during which he held tea-time talks with Sunak at 10 Downing Street on Sunday.
It now remains to be seen how his further meetings will unfold and if he will be meeting David Cameron as his new UK counterpart in place of Cleverly.
“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,” Cameron posted in a statement on X.
The Prime Minister has asked me to serve as his Foreign Secretary and I have gladly accepted.— David Cameron (@David_Cameron) November 13, 2023
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“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,” he said.
The 57-year-old had resigned as prime minister in June 2016 soon after he lost in the Brexit referendum, having campaigned for the UK to remain within the European Union (EU). At the time, he was directly at odds with Sunak – then a junior minister – who had campaigned for Britain to leave the EU.
“While I have been out of front-line politics for the last seven years, I hope that my experience – as Conservative Leader for eleven years and Prime Minister for six – will assist me in helping the Prime Minister to meet these vital challenges,” added Cameron.
Braverman’s exit was somewhat expected after days of speculation over her job since it emerged her controversial newspaper article attacking the Metropolitan Police was published without clearance from 10 Downing Street.
The Goan-origin Cabinet minister has repeatedly courted controversy in her senior UK Cabinet role, most recently by accusing the Met Police of “playing favourites” when tackling with aggressive Israel-Gaza protests in an article in ‘The Times'.
Sunak had been under pressure from sections of his Conservative Party as well as faced attacks from the Opposition for allowing her to continue in her job after her breach of the ministerial code by defying her boss' orders.
“Our brave police officers deserve the thanks of every decent citizen for their professionalism in the face of violence and aggression from protesters and counter protesters in London yesterday. That multiple officers were injured doing their duty is an outrage,” Braverman said in a statement on Sunday evening, following far-right violence during the protests over the weekend.
“The sick, inflammatory and, in some cases, clearly criminal chants, placards and paraphernalia openly on display at the march mark a new low. Antisemitism and other forms of racism together with the valorising of terrorism on such a scale is deeply troubling,” she said, in her final statement as home secretary.
However, she is unlikely to go to the Tory backbenches of the House of Commons quietly and expected to create trouble for the Sunak-led government with the backing of her supporters on the right of the Conservative Party.