Former British Prime Minister David Cameron walks outside 10 Downing Street in London on November 13, 2023. Image Credit: REUTERS

LONDON: Rishi Sunak appointed former prime minister David Cameron as his foreign secretary, a shock return to frontline politics for a man who led the UK between 2010 and 2016.

David Cameron, 57,  resigned after the outcome of the Brexit referendum, when Britain voted to leave the European Union.

Cameron’s appointment came as a surprise to seasoned politics-watchers. It’s rare for a non-lawmaker to take a senior government post, and it has been decades since a former prime minister held a Cabinet job.

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His unexpected return to the front-line of British politics comes after he spent the last seven years writing his memoirs and involving himself in business, including Greensill Capital, a finance firm which later collapsed.

Greensill’s demise fuelled questions about the extent to which former leaders can use their status to influence government policy after Cameron repeatedly contacted senior ministers in 2020 to lobby for the firm.

Sunak’s office said on Monday that King Charles had approved giving Cameron a seat in Britain’s upper chamber, the House of Lords, allowing him to return to government as a minister despite no longer being an elected member of parliament.

The last foreign secretary to serve in the Lords, rather than the elected House of Commons, was Peter Carrington, who was part of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s government in the 1980s.

No ex-PM has taken a cabinet job for more than 50 years, but the last one to do it was Alex Douglas-Home, who was appointed foreign secretary by Edward Heath in 1970, six years after he lost a general election.