All of David Cameron’s foreign policy blunders in full

Ann Widdecombe ‘flabbergasted’ at David Cameron’s appointment

David Cameron’s return to frontline politics left many long-time political observers in complete shock this morning.

Mr Cameron will be rushed into the Lords, so he can serve in the position after seven years away from the political limelight.

During his time in the wilderness, Mr Cameron occasionally made political interventions to criticise moves by his prime ministerial successors, including Rishi Sunak’s decision to cut overseas aid and HS2.

The return of the former PM, who served from 2010 to 2016, has split decision in the party, with many pointing to his record on foreign policy during his time in office.

The Express has taken a look back at some of David Cameron’s biggest foreign policy failings.

READ MORE: David Cameron is appointed new Foreign Secretary


Mr Cameron left Downing Street shrouded in disaster after gambling everything on an in-out Brexit referendum and losing.

He failed to negotiate any serious reforms with the EU ahead of the referendum, not least on the free movement of people.

Throughout his time in office, he repeatedly found himself begging for help from Angela Merkel, only for her to fail to come to his aid.

One such example was David Cameron’s failed attempt to oppose Jean-Claude Junker taking over as European Commission president when he hoped to get Ms Merkel’s support in opposing the ardent federalist.

Ms Merkel ended up throwing her support behind Mr Junker, leaving David Cameron with the support of only Hungary, a move that was described as a “humiliating defeat”.

He also vetoed an EU treaty in 2011, which was hailed by the Eurosceptic Tory Party but “cast Britain adrift” in Europe.

His constant criticism of the EU during his premiership meant it was very difficult to sell the EU as a positive force during the referendum.

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David Cameron also had a blow to his authority when trying to get the Commons to back action against Syrian President Assad.

Mr Cameron lost a vote thanks to 30 Tory rebels joining forces with Labour.

The Government thought they were set to win the vote in a major error in party management.


In 2013 David Cameron declared that it was “mission accomplished” in Afghanistan.

Eight years later the Taliban would carry out a military offensive and take Kabul in days, felling Afghanistan’s government and reinstating the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.

At the time Mr Cameron was working to withdraw all British troops from the country, there were fears there would be a surge of violence from the Taliban shortly after.

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David Cameron promoted a new “golden era” for Cino-British relations, despite concerns about the Communist regime’s approach to human rights and their intelligence operations.

He invited President Xi Jinping to Britain, where the pair were filmed enjoying a pint in a local Cotswold pub.

Mr Cameron’s Government was seen as prioritising the economy over security.

Relations with China have rapidly deteriorated since Mr Cameron left office, given their crackdown on liberties in Hong Kong, spying concerns and its treatment of Uyghur Muslims.

Liz Truss said Mr Cameron’s “golden era” policy with China “sent the wrong message”.

This morning Sir Iain Duncan Smith said Mr Cameron’s appointment was “astonishing” and sent the message that the UK wants to do business with China “at any costs”.

Israel and Gaza

David Cameron called Gaza “a prison camp” and criticised Israel’s “illegal” settlements in Palestine.

He said: “Gaza cannot and must not be allowed to remain a prison camp.”

He also called on Israel to relax its restrictions on Gaza.

Mr Cameron made the comments on a visit to Turkey in 2010.

They may make diplomacy with Israel during its war with Hamas tricky.

His comments led to Ephraim Sneh, the former Israeli defence minister, to say it was “very regrettable that the British PM doesn’t understand [the situation]”.

He added: “Cameron is right – Gaza is a prison camp, but those who control the prison are Hamas. I’m totally against the double standards of a nation which fights the Taliban but is showing its solidarity with their brothers, Hamas.

“It’s very regrettable that the British PM doesn’t understand that. It reflects a lack of understanding and is a very bad sign. Cameron doesn’t understand that 1.5m people live in Gaza under the repressive regime of Hamas – and yet he blames Israel.”

Saudi Arabia

During his time away from politics, David Cameron and billionaire financier Lex Greensill went on a desert camping trip with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman – months after the leader was accused of ordering Jamal Khashoggi’s assassination.

The trip happened in 2020.

Just months before the trip, a UN report found “credible links” between the Crown Prince and the murder in 2018, with the US formally announcing that Bin Salman approved the killing.

Russia and Ukraine

While David Cameron did move to start arming and training Ukraine in 2014, well before many other countries, he failed to properly hit back at Putin after his annexation of Crimea.

It’s since been argued that David Cameron’s naivety, alongside other leaders, left Putin free to act as he pleased and led to the ground invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

He has been accused of trying to separate Putin’s acts of aggression in Eastern Europe from the areas he believed the UK and Russia shared interests.


David Cameron had to apologise for “misspeaking” in 2010 after claiming Iran had a developed nuclear weapon.

The PM said that Turkey joining the EU could help address problems “like the Middle East peace process, like the fact that Iran has got a nuclear weapon”.

An aide to David Cameron acknowledged the diplomatic mistake.

Labour MP Chris Bryant accused the then-PM of making a “downright embarrassing” mistake that was also “dangerous”.

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