David Cameron takes swipe at Boris Johnson
Newly installed Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron wasted little time in taking a swipe at former Prime Minister Boris Johnson when he made his maiden speech in the House of Lords.
The former PM’s shock appointment by Rishi Sunak, the current occupant of Number 10, raised eyebrows when confirmed last week.
However, he made it clear Mr Sunak had his full support, describing him as “a strong and capable Prime Minister”.
He continued: “I had two former party leaders in my cabinet alongside many veterans of Tory leadership campaigns, one of which, of course, was the noble Lord Clark
“And I valued all their advice, and I hope that some of my experience will help the Prime Minister in meeting the vital challenges that we face as a country.”
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Neverthless, Lord Cameron admitted it was a “surprised to be asked”, continuing: “I have not been sitting like some latter-day de Gaulle at Colombey-les-Deux-Eglises waiting to be asked, how should I put it, to ‘take back control’.
And in a direct reference to Mr Johnson, known for his love of Classics, whom he has known since their days together at Oxford University, he added: “Nor am I Cincinnatus hovering over my plan.
“I leave all classical allusions and indeed illusions for that matter, to another former Prime Minister with whom I share a number of educational experiences.”
Lord Cameron also revealed that he will answer questions monthly from peers, while Foreign Office minister Andrew Mitchell will deputise for him in the Commons.
However, he said he was “happy to consider other appropriate mechanisms so that Parliament is able to scrutinise all the work of my department”.
He further noted that he is not the first peer to sit in the Cabinet – with Lord Mandelson, Lord Adonis and Lord Frost also doing so in recent times.
Lord Cameron said: “Lord Mandelson sent me a particularly charming welcome.
“But he pointed out that I am a comeback novice and this is only my first one compared with his three.
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“I suppose my response should be that to make three comebacks you need both his prodigious talent and you need to be sacked twice by the Prime Minister, which is a fate I’m hoping to avoid.”
Jocular though his tone was, Lord Cameron’s relationship with Mr Johnson is widely believed to have been badly compromised by the latter’s decision to back Leave in the referendum of June 2016.
Britain narrowly voted to quit, and Lord Cameron, a Remainer, resigned immediately, standing down as an MP the following September.
Regardless, Tory former chancellor of the exchequer Lord Lamont of Lerwick welcomed his return to the frontline of British politics, saying: “It’s a mystery to me why we have today still this self-defeating idea that former prime ministers should never return to frontline politics and I’m glad Lord Cameron has broken that rule…
“Many people were surprised at the appointment. I was not wholly surprised.
“I hope I’m not breaking any confidence – and he has probably forgotten – but about a year ago we had a conversation when I asked him whether he would ever be interested in perhaps a big international job or perhaps becoming Foreign Secretary.
“He wasn’t wholly convincing in his denial that he wasn’t remotely interested.
“What I do know about Lord Cameron is that he strongly believes in public service and that is why he is sitting where he is today.”
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