Six memorable things you may have forgotten about David Cameron

The former prime minister is back. And while many Britons have not forgotten about austerity and Brexit, here are some of Cameron's other memorable moments

Former prime minister David Cameron leaving Downing Street, central London after being appointed Foreign Secretary and will be made a peer, No 10 said. Picture date: Monday November 13, 2023.
David Cameron leaves Downing Street after being appointed Foreign Secretary. The ex-PM will be made a peer, No 10 said. (Credit: PA)

The last couple of years in UK politics have been more turbulent than most. But it is unlikely anyone could have predicted the return of David Cameron to frontline politics.

The former prime minister, who led the Conservatives to power in 2010 on his One Nation manifesto, was today appointed as Foreign Secretary by Rishi Sunak.

Born on October 9, 1966, in London, and raised in Berkshire, Cameron worked at the Conservative Research Department between 1988 to1993 before being elected as the Member of Parliament for Witney in 2001.

He became the leader of the Conservative Party in 2005, and served as PM between 2010 and 2016 Cameron has been remembered for two primary legacies - the launch of austerity measures alongside George Osborne int he wake of 2008's financial crash; and calling the the Brexit referendum of 2016 that ultimately led to Britain leaving the EU.

But as he begins his unexpected stint in charge of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, here's six other things you might have forgotten about him:

Failed Libya intervention

BENGHAZI, LIBYA - SEPTEMBER 15:  Prime Minister David Cameron (C) addresses the crowds in Victory Square, as French President Nicholas Sarkozy (Center L) looks on, September 15, 2011 in Benghazi, Libya. Cameron and Sarkozy are the first leaders from countries involved in the NATO-led military operations against Muammar Gaddafi to visit the freed capital. The pair met with NTC leaders and gave a press conference.  (Photo by Stefan Rousseau - Pool/Getty Images)
Cameron addresses the crowds in Victory Square in Benghazi, Libya following the Nato-led operation. (Getty Images)

Cameron's government played an active role in foreign affairs, notably with the military intervention in Libya in 2011. The decision, aimed at supporting anti-Gaddafi forces during the Arab Spring, faced criticism for its aftermath and impact on regional stability.

In 2016, the foreign affairs committee chaired by Conservative MP Crispin Blunt, found that Cameron's intervention in Libya lacked proper intelligence analysis, shifted into an unannounced goal of regime change, and neglected moral responsibility for post-Gaddafi reconstruction, contributing to the creation of a failed state on the brink of civil war.

Blunt also acknowledged that the original aim of the military intervention to protect Benghazi was achieved within 24 hours.

Cameron refused to give evidence to the select committee and later blamed the Libyan people for failing to take their chance of democracy.

Syria’s airstrike defeat

Cameron’s proposed military intervention in Syria faced defeat in the commons in a parliamentary vote in August 2013, when he sought approval for military action against the Assad regime in response to a suspected chemical weapons attack.

The motion was narrowly defeated, with significant opposition from both within his Conservative Party and widespread public scepticism in getting involved - particularly in the aftermath of the Iraq War.

The failure to secure support from key international partners, including the United States, weakened the case for intervention and concerns over the unpredictable outcomes of military intervention.

Cameron lost by just 13 parliamentary votes, but his inability to determine Britain’s foreign policy and join Washington and Paris in strikes against Syria will strain the “special relationship” with the United States was widely seen as a personal humiliation.

'Chaos with Ed Miliband' tweet

Days before the 2015 general election, Cameron stirred the political pot with a tweet saying voters had to choose between "stability and strong Government" with him or "chaos with Ed Miliband".

The tweet was meant to highlight the chance of a hung Parliament and potential electoral chaos if Miliband's Labour Party didn't get enough support, maybe teaming up with the Scottish National Party.

Unfortunately - for Cameron at least - it went viral for all the wrong reasons, and is regularly referred to by critics of the Tories when the Conservative Party goes through a chaotic period of its own.

In 2018, it was branded a "tweet to regret".

Greensill and a lack of judgement

David Cameron leaves his home in London ahead of giving evidence to the Commons Treasury Committee on Greensill Capital. Picture date: Thursday May 13, 2021. (Photo by Victoria Jones/PA Images via Getty Images)
David Cameron faced the Commons Treasury Committee on Greensill Capital, in 2021 where his judgment in relation to his lobbying on behalf of Greensill, was questioned. Picture date: (Credit: PA)

Cameron found himself in hot water after placing calls and sending dozens of texts and emails to ministers and senior officials as he tried to win access to COVID support programmes for Greensill Capital, a since-collapsed specialist bank.

In an awkward report by MPs, the Commons Treasury Committee called into question his judgment in relation to his lobbying on behalf of Greensill, in which he held shares, and said the Treasury was right to reject the firm’s offer.

“We are very surprised about this, given that Mr Cameron was an ex-prime minister, who had worked with those he was lobbying, had access to their mobile phone numbers, and appears to have been able to negotiate who should attend meetings,” the report said, acknowledging that no rules were broken.

“Cameron’s use of less formal means to lobby government showed a significant lack of judgment, especially given that his ability to use an informal approach was aided by his previous position of prime minister,” it added. “Cameron appears to accept that, at least to some degree, his judgment was lacking.”

A £25K shed

London, UK. 19th Sep, 2019. Hands of a person hold signed copies of the autobiography book '' For the Record'' by the former British Prime Minister David Cameron at Hatchards bookstore in Piccadilly, London. Credit: Amer Ghazzal/SOPA Images/ZUMA Wire/Alamy Live News
"For the Record" the memoir by former British Prime Minister, David Cameron, a candid dive into his political journey offered readers a behind-the-scenes of major events, including the Brexit referendum. (Credit: Alamy)

In a candid dive into his political journey, Cameron penned his memoir, 'For the Record' which was published in 2019. In it he reflected on the pivotal moments that defined his leadership, from navigating the economic challenges during the global financial crisis to the strategic decisions behind the coalition government with the Liberal Democrats.

It offered readers a behind-the-scenes look at Cameron's role in major events, including the Brexit referendum that ultimately led to his resignation as Prime Minister.

The book also delved into the deeply personal aspects of his life, addressing the loss of his son Ivan and the complexities of balancing family life with the demands of political office.

But perhaps it will be best remembered for the fact that Cameron was reported to have spent £25,000 on a "shepherd’s hut" to provide him with a quiet place in his Oxfordshire garden to write it.

Coming so soon after his ignominious exit from power, it provided another opportunity for those opposed to his austerity measures to get riled up.

Gaza a 'prison camp'

In 2010, Cameron criticised Israel, calling for restrictions to be relaxed on Gaza, when he addressed business leaders in Turkey.

"The situation in Gaza has to change," he said. "Humanitarian goods and people must flow in both directions. Gaza cannot and must not be allowed to remain a prison camp."

On June 2010, Cameron said, "Everybody knows that we are not going to sort out the problem of the Middle East peace process while there is, effectively, a giant open prison in Gaza."

Thirteen years later, with the Israel and Hamas war, the former PM now Foreign Secretary, Lord Cameron had a slightly different take: "We are facing a daunting set of international challenges, including the war in Ukraine and the crisis in the Middle East," he said.

Watch Lord David Cameron departs 10 Downing Street