A blockbuster reshuffle, or box-office flop? Will Sunak’s reshuffle set the Tories on course for election victory?
It feels very much like that season finale, where your favourite characters are brought back for one final hurrah. And with Rishi Sunak’s likely last major reshuffle before the next General Election, we saw none other than David Cameron returning to our screens this morning. Will bringing back the former star of the show revive the Conservative’s ratings? What does it mean for the Conservative’s script as they look ahead to that General Election? And is it a sign the writers have run out of ideas?
The decision to offer David Cameron the role of Foreign Secretary was clearly designed to send out a message. It’s a statement of intent – this is Sunak’s party now and the Conservative’s flirtation with populism is officially over. Sunak will want to position this as a return to “grown-up politics”.
With Conservative party members losing enthusiasm and shying away from campaigning, if the party is to get on a “war-footing” there is a need to re-inspire them. The star-studded cast of Cameron and Cleverly (a favoured son amongst the grass-roots), will no doubt go some way to re-enthusing the party base.
And, in classic blockbuster style, your new stars of the show should be the viewers’ focus, not the departure of previous actors. And so is the case today – Suella Braverman’s sacking as Home Secretary, which could easily have been a major tinderbox moment for the Conservative Party, is not the focus of attention. Those backbench MPs gearing up for a fight will no doubt have had the wind taken out of their sails this morning.
And what about that mooted sequel? Whilst Cameron is being hyped-up by some today as a vote-winner, and this is indeed true, he won by taking the battle to the Lib Dems, not in fighting Labour in the red-wall. There is no doubt that his appointment, alongside the sacking of Suella Braverman, will provide a welcome boost to the reputation of the Conservatives in the leafy shires. Taken with Labour’s large and steady lead in the polls, is this a recognition from Sunak that he can no longer hold the Boris Johnson coalition together, and that instead the party will shift its focus to that smaller mandate as won by David Cameron in 2015?