Is David Cameron still an MP? How former PM is able to be foreign secretary despite not being in the Commons

Former prime minister David Cameron has been confirmed as the new foreign secretary in a bombshell political comeback.

The move comes as part of Rishi Sunak’s Cabinet reshuffle, after he sacked Suella Braverman as home secretary on Monday morning.

James Cleverly has replaced her, leaving the foreign secretary position open and leading to Mr Cameron’s shock return.

Is David Cameron still an MP?

Mr Cameron was prime minister between 2010 and 2016 but quit after losing the Brexit referendum to Vote Leave.

At the time he said he would remain on the Conservative backbenches, but on 12 September 2016 he announced he would be resigning his Witney, Oxfordshire seat with immediate effect.

Mr Cameron held the seat for 15 years, first entering the Commons in June 2001. He was succeeded by Robert Courts, who remains in the role.

Upon resigning, the former prime minister said he didn’t want his presence on the backbenches to serve as a “distraction” to Theresa May, who replaced him in No 10.

“As a former PM it’s very difficult to sit as a backbencher and not be an enormous diversion and distraction from what the Government is doing,” he said. “I don’t want to be that distraction.”

Why is David Cameron able to join the Cabinet?

The UK’s unwritten constitution does not dictate that a person needs to be a member of the House of Commons to take up a post as minister, or even be in the Cabinet.

In the past, you did not even need to be in the Lords to run the country. Alec Douglas-Home, who was prime minister from 1963 to 1964, was in neither house for nine days while holding the most powerful office in the land.

The constitution has not been amended since then, but the ministerial code now says that you must be either in the Lords or the Commons in order to be a government minister.

Mr Cameron was parachuted into the House of Lords to allow him to take the Cabinet position.

The King confirmed that the former prime minister had been granted a life peerage after being made Barony of the United Kingdom.

There are many previous examples of Lords members holding Cabinet positions. Baroness Morgan served as secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport under Boris Johnson from July 2019 until February 2020.

Lord Peter Mandelson was business secretary and, effectively, deputy prime minister in Gordon Brown’s government, despite having left the Commons in 2004. 

Lord Andrew Adonis also served as transport secretary in the same government, despite never having been elected to the Commons.

Follow the latest reshuffle news on our live-blog here

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