Reshuffles are always newsworthy, but rarely has a reshuffle attracted so much attention. Prime Ministers reshuffle their ministers on a fairly regular basis and aside from one or two small changes, this week’s changes come a year or so after Rishi Sunak took the top job in government.
Of course, the increasingly forthright comments of now former Home Secretary Suella Braverman led to calls for her removal last week. MPs always comment on aspects of our society, but any minister providing a running commentary on their own department, with opinion pieces undermining the efficacy of the services they provide, will always end up on the backbenches. But what was completely unexpected was the return of former Prime Minister David, now Lord, Cameron as Foreign Secretary.
I’m a fan of David Cameron. After all, he was the leader of my party when I was first elected. He has a huge amount of experience in government and is seen as a very decent, thoughtful, and sensible individual. His presence in cabinet will serve to enrich and inform debates and governance. A few people have contacted me questioning whether it is right that an unelected individual, who is not accountable to the House of Commons, should be allowed to hold such a high post.
The answer is, constitutionally, yes. He is, as a member of the House of Lords, accountable to Parliament through the upper chamber. Indeed, every government department has a Lords minister to respond to peers’ questions. The House of Commons still holds the Foreign Office to account with ministers answering oral questions and providing statements and responding to urgent questions. Ultimately, the government, and in particular the Prime Minister, are accountable to MPs. This is certainly not unprecedented and we have even had a Prime Minister in the Lords.
Not everyone is delighted by the reshuffle – as is always the case. One of my colleagues has publicly submitted a letter of no confidence in the PM, to the delighted mockery of the Twittersphere grammar-police and wider commentators.
At the end of it all is the simple question: is the government better today than it was last week? I know most of these new (and old) ministers well. I strongly believe that this government is in an overall far, far better place than it was until early Monday morning. The prime minister has provided us with both a fresh new generation, and the wisdom of experience.