David Cameron rejoins Government as foreign secretary - what did other former prime ministers do next?

The sacking of Suella Braverman has led to a cabinet reshuffle that has brought David Cameron back into Government
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Remaining as MPs, making dramatic returns to the cabinet, and careers as diplomats - there seems to be little rhyme or reason to the roles former prime ministers take after leaving office. What they do after they depart Number 10 just depends on their personal choices, circumstances, and qualifications.

Without any fixed or predetermined role for former prime ministers, we've seen many take their careers after leading the nation in different directions. On November 13, in what many see as a shock announcement, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak appointed former PM David Cameron as foreign secretary despite Cameron leaving government seven years ago.

A LOT has happened since Cameron left the House of Commons in 2016. Brexit (which Cameron is still synonymous with) and the Covid-19 pandemic loom most large. Cameron's roles after stepping down as Tory leader include working as chairman of the National Citizen Service Patrons, and as president of Alzheimer's Research UK.

It remains to be seen whether this appointment will be a successful one as the Conservatives prepare for a general election within the next 12 months. NationalWorld takes a look back at what other former prime ministers did after leaving office.

Tony Blair speaks onstage during the 2023 Concordia Annual Summit at Sheraton New York on September 19, 2023Tony Blair speaks onstage during the 2023 Concordia Annual Summit at Sheraton New York on September 19, 2023
Tony Blair speaks onstage during the 2023 Concordia Annual Summit at Sheraton New York on September 19, 2023

Tony Blair

After resigning as Labour leader and PM in June 2007, Blair also announced he would resign his seat in the House of Commons. Blair gave up his seat and was appointed Special Envoy of the Quartet on the Middle East, a diplomatic post which he held until 2015.

He has been the executive chairman of the think tank Tony Blair Institute for Global Change since 2016. He has also spoken out to intervene during political turmoil such as during the initial post-Brexit period and regarding the Covid-19 pandemic.

In 2010, much like other former PMs, he published the memoir Tony Blair: A Journey. Soon after leaving office, he also converted to Catholicism.

Margaret Thatcher

Margaret Thatcher looking pensive at the Conservative Party Conference in Blackpool in 1985.  PIC: Hulton Archive/Getty ImagesMargaret Thatcher looking pensive at the Conservative Party Conference in Blackpool in 1985.  PIC: Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Margaret Thatcher looking pensive at the Conservative Party Conference in Blackpool in 1985. PIC: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

After 11 years as Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher stood down in 1990 as the longest-serving Prime Minister of the 20th century. She returned to the backbenches as an MP before retiring aged 66 in 1992. She was given a life peerage after retiring as Baroness Thatcher which allowed her to sit in the House of Lords.

She wrote two memoirs after her time in politics - The Downing Street Years (1993) and The Path to Power (1995). In July 1992, Thatcher was hired by the tobacco company Philip Morris as a "geopolitical consultant". She was reportedly paid $250,000 per year and an annual contribution of $250,000 was made to her foundation.

Thatcher also reportedly earned $50,000 for each speech she delivered. Margaret Thatcher died of a stroke in 2013 at the age of 87.

Theresa May

'It was Tory MPs who ousted Theresa May and killed her “softer Brexit”'. PIC: House of Commons/PA'It was Tory MPs who ousted Theresa May and killed her “softer Brexit”'. PIC: House of Commons/PA
'It was Tory MPs who ousted Theresa May and killed her “softer Brexit”'. PIC: House of Commons/PA

Theresa May's legacy as Prime Minster centred on the difficulties surrounding the Brexit referendum. May was arguably dealt a difficult hand here, but her overall legacy has also been marred by a hostile environment for illegal immigrants during her time as home secretary before.

She stepped down as PM in July 2019 which sparked a leadership contest as May returned to the backbenches. She has remained MP of Maidenhead since 1997. Rumours have often circulated about May's interest in writing a book and she ha also been critical of her successors and their advisers - namely Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings.

Winston Churchill

April 1939:  British Conservative politician Winston ChurchillApril 1939:  British Conservative politician Winston Churchill
April 1939: British Conservative politician Winston Churchill

After serving as Prime Minister during World War II from 1940 to 1945, Churchill returned as PM in in 1951 to 1955. He remained an MP until 1964 and died the following year from a stroke on January 12, 1965. Three years prior, a fall in Monte Carlo greatly reduced his mobility and in 1963, President John F. Kennedy made Churchill an honorary US citizen.

Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson became Prime Minister of the UK in 2019. And it's fair to say his premiership was nothing short of eventful. He stepped away from politics, giving up his seat for Uxbridge and South Ruislip on June 12, 2023.

The period for him since stepping down as PM hasn't been without controversy either. An ongoing Covid-19 inquiry could yet bring more revelations to the surface, and Partygate remains a constant example of how a Government ought not to conduct itself.

Former prime minister Boris JohnsonFormer prime minister Boris Johnson
Former prime minister Boris Johnson

Last year, there was even a hint that he could stunningly return as PM after stepping down only months before. This was short-lived however but served as a reminder of Boris' enduring popularity. Boris Johnson is now set to join a GB News TV show in the near future following an announcement in October 2023.

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