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David Cameron timeline: from MP to PM to Foreign Secretary

 (Suzanne Plunkett / Reuters)
(Suzanne Plunkett / Reuters)

Former prime minister and current foreign secretary David Cameron has asked Britons residing overseas to register to vote by June 18 in the general election scheduled for July 4.

He urged all British residents to exercise their inalienable right to vote, pointing out that choices about trade, defence, and foreign policy will have a direct impact on their daily lives.

There are 240,000 British residents in Dubai alone, making the United Arab Emirates (UAE) the most popular place for expats to live in after Germany and Spain, according to the Expat Insider 2023 study.

Cameron made a surprising return to politics last year by becoming foreign secretary, seven years after he resigned as prime minister.

Rishi Sunak appointed the former Tory party leader to his Cabinet to replace James Cleverly who has in turn taken the position of home secretary vacated by Suella Braverman. 

Mr Cameron, who stepped down from the top job in 2016 after the European Union referendum, is not a member of Parliament these days but has been made a Tory peer in order to attend Cabinet meetings.

Here is a look at all the positions he has held.

2001: MP for Witney

The then-Tory hotshot took the winnable Oxfordshire seat of Witney aged 34 having worked for the party for the previous decade. He joined a close group of friends that included George Osborne who would meet and discuss the party’s future.

He joined the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee but left the role in 2003 as the party transitioned from Iain Duncan Smith’s leadership to Michael Howard.

Former prime minister David Cameron leaving Downing Street after being appointed Foreign Secretary (PA Wire)
Former prime minister David Cameron leaving Downing Street after being appointed Foreign Secretary (PA Wire)

2005: Leader of the Conservative Party/Leader of the Opposition

Cameron put himself forward to lead the party after Howard resigned following the Tories’ defeat to Labour in the 2005 election.

After a three-month campaign, he triumphed over candidates far more experienced and won the final vote against David Davis.

He was noted for paying close attention to his media image but also for looking to transform the Conservatives into a more modern-looking party.

2010: Prime minister

Under Cameron, the Conservative Party won the 2010 election - although entered government in a coalition with the Liberal Democrats. He appoints Osborne as his chancellor.

His first term was noted for introducing austerity measures, legalising gay marriage, raising tuition fees, and winning two referendums: over Scottish independence and an alternative voting reform.

David Cameron makes a speech outside 10 Downing Street in London, before leaving for Buckingham Palace to resign as prime minister (PA) (PA Archive)
David Cameron makes a speech outside 10 Downing Street in London, before leaving for Buckingham Palace to resign as prime minister (PA) (PA Archive)

In 2015, Cameron won a majority for the Conservative Party with a key manifesto pledge that he would hold a further referendum on the British membership of the European Union.

Cameron, in 2016, campaigned to remain but saw a Boris Johnson-led leave campaign win and he resigned as prime minister the next day. He stayed on as MP for Witney until September 2016.

2016-2023: Various positions

After politics, Cameron bought a much-reported £25,000 garden shed to write his memoir For The Record, which was published in 2019.

He additionally held consultant and chairman positions at organisations including: Consultant for Illumina Inc; Vice-chair, UK China Fund; Director, ONE; Consultant for First Data Corp; Member of Council on Foreign Relations; Chairman, LSE-Oxford Commission on Growth in Fragile States; Registered member of Washington Speakers Bureau; Chairman of advisory board, Afiniti.

Incidentally, in 2018 The Sun reported that a “friend” of David Cameron had said that the former PM wanted a return as he was “bored s***less” in his new life. 

Lex Greensill (PA Wire)
Lex Greensill (PA Wire)

2018: Advisor to Greensill Capital

David Cameron took an advisory role at Greensill Capital in 2018 and worked with Australian financier Lex Greensill. 

During this time, Cameron used his connections to lobby the government and sent texts to Rishi Sunak, who was then chancellor. Both he and the government denied cronyism, and the lobbying watchdog cleared Mr Cameron of wrongdoing in 2021.

2023: Foreign Secretary, Tory peer

Cameron was named foreign secretary in Sunak's cabinet reshuffle on November 13, 2023, taking James Cleverly's place as home secretary. Concurrently, it was declared that Cameron will be bestowed with a life peerage, establishing him as a member of the House of Lords and the first former prime minister to be elevated to the peerage since Margaret Thatcher.On November 17, 2023, he was made Baron Cameron of Chipping Norton, in the County of Oxfordshire.