Seven years ago, David Cameron left Downing Street after his big gamble to hold a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union backfired and brought his six-year term as prime minister to an end.
A few months later his political career appeared to be over as he resigned his seat in parliament, with opponents blaming him for the defeat in the referendum in which he had campaigned for “remain” and Brexit supporters saying he had failed to implement a proper strategy to prepare for departure.
News that he had been appointed foreign secretary by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Monday delighted the centrist wing of the ruling Conservative Party, who said Britain needed a big hitter on the global stage who would also prove an electoral asset.
But for critics of Sunak, the appointment of someone whose policies he has criticised – and who in return has been dismissive of his own leadership – was a desperate act to resurrect his ailing government, languishing some 20 points behind in opinion polls with an election expected next year.
“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 said in a statement after his appointment.
In the years since leaving office, much of the policy agenda Cameron pursued as prime minister has been ditched by his successors, particularly his charm offensive with China and unsuccessful attempts to court Russian President Vladimir Putin, making his comeback seem even more remarkable.