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Will Rishi Sunak’s David Cameron curveball boost the Conservatives in the polls?

With a General Election possible within a year, the Prime Minister has reshuffled his top team. But are new faces - and one retread - enough to reverse the party’s slide in the polls?

KentOnline political editor Paul Francis examines the team sheet…

David Cameron has been appointed foreign secretary
David Cameron has been appointed foreign secretary

Who would have thought that a former Conservative Prime Minister would overshadow the sacking of the lamentable home secretary Suella Braverman?

After a weekend in which Rishi Sunak had been under rising pressure to ditch Ms Braverman, he embarked on a reshuffle and threw a curveball by appointing the former PM David Cameron to one of the biggest offices of state – foreign affairs.

Maybe it was a political decoy. Although you’d like to think there were other reasons, given the important nature of the role – not least ensuring that the UK remains a key player on the international front.

Bringing back a retired elder statesman certainly caught a lot of people by surprise; the question is whether - having been surprised - what does it bring to the Conservative party that it was lacking?

That is not immediately clear.

Home secretary Suella Braverman lost her job in the reshuffle
Home secretary Suella Braverman lost her job in the reshuffle

Cameron, who almost became a candidate in a Kent seat when he was starting out on his political journey, led a coalition with the Lib Dems which did not find favour with everyone, especially those who blamed him for the party’s failure to win an outright majority in 2010.

And it won’t be overlooked that he triggered the Brexit referendum and quit as PM after failing to persuade the country that staying in the EU was better than leaving.

As to James Cleverly, the home secretary inherits a familiar in-tray (or red box) with the controversial policy of processing asylum seekers in Rwanda topping the pile. A legal ruling on a challenge to the government’s proposals is due on Wednesday.

And that, of course, links to the widespread publicity and media focus on those still trying to cross the Channel in small boats and dinghies.

What the public will make of the prospect of another new broom to try to resolve the ongoing issue of these crossings is anyone’s guess.

The Manston asylum processing centre
The Manston asylum processing centre

Installing a new minister isn’t going to change things overnight; it won’t stem the flow of boats, although the squally seas and poor weather does force the number down.

Mr Cleverly says he is absolutely determined to crack down on unlawful crossings and says his work as foreign secretary means he is familiar with the issues.

“I've worked very closely with my colleagues in the Home Office cracking down on illegal migration, reducing the number of small boat arrivals,” he said.

“Now as the home secretary, I'm absolutely committed to stopping the boats, as we promised, but also making sure that everybody in the UK feels safe and secure, going around, going about their daily business, knowing that the government is here to protect them.”

It is all sound stuff but the proof of this particular political pudding will be in the eating and the public’s appetite for sweeping changes at the top table is not exactly high.

So far as Rishi Sunak is concerned, it is arguably his last throw of the dice before voters deliver their verdict.

After 13 years, the party may simply be running out of steam and no amount of reshuffling will cure that affliction all parties go through: voters’ indifference.

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