British politics has seen some massive shake ups this week as well as the return of two familiar faces from the country’s political past: David Cameron and Tony Blair. The question of what these returns mean remains to be seen and the reaction of the British public seems to have been very mixed.
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The highest profile of these returns is former conservative Prime Minister and MP for Witney, David Cameron who has been given the role of Foreign Secretary. This appointment is despite the fact the Cameron is not a serving Member of Parliament.
Instead, Cameron has been made a lord through a life peerage which makes him a member of the House of Lords instead of the Commons. Cameron has also not been majorly involved in politics since resigning from office back in 2016 which may throw his capabilities into question.
After leaving office Cameron was infamously at the heart of the Greensill scandal which involved Cameron being paid millions of pounds to work as a lobbyist for the financial services company. In this role Cameron lobbied for Government funds to be given to Greensill during the pandemic.
In this position Cameron used his government contacts to directly message and lobby several Government officials including Matt Handcock and Rishi Sunak. While a Cabinet Office inquiry into the lobbying concluded Cameron was not breaking rules in his lobbying role, the report did conclude that it “reflects on the insufficient strength of the rules.”
Back in 2019 Cameron also published a memoir entitled For the Record.
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On the other side of the political fence there is former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair who is rumoured to be taking a role in the Gaza crisis.
Blair served as UK Prime Minister for 1997 to 2007 leading his Labour government under his New Labour brand.
Blair has made it known that he is open to helping in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This has come after a story in the Israeli press reported that he been offered a role as humanitarian coordinator for the Gaza strip. However, a spokesperson for Blair stated that “no role has been offered or taken” in contrast to that story.
Since leaving office Blair has done a lot of work in the Middle East, serving as the Middle East envoy for the United Nations, European Union, United States and Russia from 2007 to 2015.
Blair has since done a lot of work in both the private sector, charity space and with his Tony Blair Associates foundation.
Blair currently has an office in Israel and has significant contacts in the region due to his post office work.
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The surprise return of these former Prime Ministers has been incredibly controversial for a few reasons.
Cameron’s return has caught a lot of flak as he is now an entirely unelected member of cabinet with an incredibly influential role despite lacking any mandate from the British people.
On top of this Cameron was very unpopular when he resigned following the 2016 Brexit referendum which still lingers on the minds of many.
Many people have also viewed this shock appointment as an act of desperation from Prime Minister Rishi Sunak amongst mass chaos within his party.
Some then see Cameron as an experienced pair of hands that can handle the ongoing international crises, something that could not be found within the elected Tory party.
Blair meanwhile is controversial due to the many accusations of war crimes committed during the Iraq war under Blair’s leadership. As such some believe that it is entirely inappropriate for a man accused of war crimes to be put in charge of a humanitarian response.
As such Blair is seen by some as completely unsuited for the role he is supposedly being considered for.
These high-profile returns come amongst massive chaos within both the Conservative and Labour parties which throws the capabilities of our actually elected officials into serious doubt.
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