This week saw the long-expected Cabinet reshuffle finally take place. No Prime Minister enjoys doing reshuffles. They have to have difficult conversations with friends and colleagues and at the end of it find they have many MPs feeling disappointed or passed over, but reshuffles are important to ensure you have the right people in the right place for the challenges the government faces, and a Party Leader has to pick their own team.
In that context, it was great to see the return of David Cameron as our new Foreign Secretary. As we face a humanitarian crisis and soul-destroying conflict in Gaza as well as an ongoing war in Ukraine and tensions between China and Taiwan, the world feels more febrile and volatile than at any time in recent history. We need experience and statesmanship to try to navigate a path through these difficult areas and to get the tone and the approach right.
I worked for David Cameron as his Press Secretary in Opposition before I became an MP and I travelled with him to Israel and the West Bank in 2007 to meet leaders of both Palestine and Israel. While there, we met Benjamin Netanyahu who, at that stage, was the Leader of the Opposition. I remember David Cameron challenging him on the illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied territories and underlining the British belief in a two-state solution. He also met Mahmoud Abbas, the Leader of the Palestinian Authority. The government has struggled to strike the right tone on these sensitive matters over the past month and I am hoping that with David Cameron we will see a rebalancing of the UK's stance in a way that recognises the complexity of the issue in the Middle East, and which places greater focus on protecting innocent civilians in this terrible conflict.
The reshuffle also saw the departure from the Government of Suella Braverman. Her straight talking was admired by some, but a Home Secretary must act with grace and restraint. A big part of their role is to calm community tensions and support our Police in the difficult operational decisions they have to undertake. I was very uncomfortable with the way she tarred everyone attending a protest for a cease-fire in Gaza with the same brush and appeared at times to suggest supporting the Palestinian cause is equivalent to supporting terrorism which is just not true. She was also wrong to publicly undermine the Head of the Metropolitan Police who had some difficult operational decisions to make. In the end, his judgement was proved correct, and the Police managed the situation very professionally.
Last Sunday there were very strong turnouts again for Remembrance Sunday. It was a reminder of the support that our community gives to all our armed forces and also to the Police force. They all place themselves in danger to protect our country and our communities and it is right that this is recognised. I attended services in Redruth and Illogan this year. As always, it was wonderful to see such strong attendance from the various Cadet groups, the Scouts, Brownies, Girl Guides, Rainbows, Football clubs and others I might not have mentioned. The arguments in London felt a long way from the way we approached the day in Cornwall.