The Risks of The Cameron Comeback mdi-fullscreen

David Cameron’s shock re-entry to government after seven years on the bench sent SW1 into a frenzy this morning. Downing Street masterminds think this is a headline catching measure that will project an aura of experience during the current Middle East crisis – and demonstrate that (even though the government is chronically behind in the polls), it can still attract an old hand to come back. The problem for Sunak is it also sends a very distinct political message to the right of the party, who are now plotting their fightback…

But Cameron’s return is not a surprise to those who understand who really calls the shots in Downing Street. A clique of Cameronite SpAds are in the major adviser positions, Oliver Dowden is Deputy Prime Minister, and the external influence of figures associated with the Tory centre, such as William Hague, Danny Finkelstein and George Osborne, is well known. These are the voices Sunak clearly listens to. The Brexit right always suspected Sunak is just a proxy for a Cameronite remain project, now it’s publicly confirmed…

While he was out of office, Cameron enlisted himself to canvass foreign investment in a controversial Sri Lankan project, a major part of Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative. The lobby are now beavering away on his extracurricular activities; Labour will be doing the same. The investigation into the Greensill scandal revealed Cameron sent messages to Sunak’s private phone in 2020. In the published messages, Sunak obediently replied to Cameron:

I think the proposals in the end did require a change to the Market Notice but I have pushed the team to explore an alternative with the Bank that might work. No guarantees, but the Bank are currently looking at it.”

The pair recently publicly clashed over HS2, with Cameron saying of the government just weeks ago:

‘Today’s announcement throws away fifteen years of cross-party consensus, sustained over six administrations, and will make it much harder to build consensus for any future long-term projects… I regret this decision and in years to come I suspect many will look back at today’s announcement and wonder how this once-in-a-generation opportunity was lost.’

This move is not without substantial risks for Sunak. No doubt he has thought it through…

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