After leaving frontline politics and taking up a variety of roles, the ex-PM has hinted that he still has a ‘big job’ left in him
David Cameron has not collected quite as many roles as George “Six Jobs” Osborne since leaving office, but the former prime minister has been ramping up his commercial activity in recent months.
A year after stepping down as MP for Witney, the former Conservative prime minister took up his first big paid job with the US electronic payments firm First Data Corporation in October, working for two or three days a month for the company.
His second job, announced this month, is leading a billion-dollar investment initiative agreed between the UK and China.
Cameron, who played a key role in efforts to bolster trade links with Beijing while he was in Downing Street, will take charge of the £750m fund to improve roads, ports and rail networks between China and the countries it trades with.
Initially, the former prime minister appeared to be concentrating on voluntary jobs and writing his memoirs after signing a publishing deal worth about £800,000, substantially less than the £4.6m advance received by Tony Blair for his memoirs after leaving office.
He was appointed president of Alzheimer’s Research UK in January and became chair of the National Citizen Service shortly after leaving parliament.
Cameron has also been giving lucrative speeches across the world, occasionally intervening on political issues such as Brexit and the US presidency. This month, he argued that Donald Trump’s “fake news” attacks on the media were undermining democracy and drowning out genuine reporting, and he has reportedly earned up to £120,000 for speeches booked through the Washington Speakers Bureau.
However, he was mocked in September for giving an address in Rapid City, South Dakota, where the audience could join a “Conversation with David Cameron” for just $7 (£5.40) or $3 for students. At the sold-out Rushmore Plaza Civic Center, he addressed the crowd as part of a speaker series by the John T Vucurevich Foundation, which said at the time the costs of the event were not covered by ticket prices as the speaker series was a gift to the community.
Cameron is said to have told friends that he still has a big job left in him after leaving Downing Street at the relatively young age of 49, having served as prime minister for six years. It is not impossible that he could be put forward by a Conservative government for a major political international role, such as succeeding Jens Stoltenberg, a former Norwegian prime minister, as Nato secretary general in 2018 or 2019.
But his latest jobs appear to be a sign that he is prepared to follow in the footsteps of other former prime ministers Blair and Sir John Major in taking on big roles that combine global politics with business.
Blair earned substantial sums as an adviser to JP Morgan’s international advisory board and the Zurich Insurance group, as well as advising controversial regimes such as Kazakhstan. He said last year he was closing his commercial enterprises to focus on not-for-profit activities.
Major took on a string of advisory jobs for corporations after leaving office, including the US investment firm Carlyle Group and Credit Suisse investment bank. Margaret Thatcher also earned hundreds of thousands a year as a consultant for the tobacco firm Philip Morris.
In contrast, Gordon Brown made more than £1m from giving speeches and writing memoirs after leaving his job as Labour prime minister, but gave the money either directly to charity or to help the Office of Gordon and Sarah Brownfund charity work.