Sunak restores Suella Braverman to Home Office and Steve Barclay returns as Health Secretary
Rishi Sunak has resurrected Suella Braverman, Dominic Raab and Michael Gove to the Cabinet while keeping Jeremy Hunt on as Chancellor and vowing to fix the “mistakes” of Liz Truss’s leadership.
On his first day as Prime Minister, Mr Sunak culled nearly a dozen of Ms Truss’s top-tier ministers including Jacob Rees-Mogg before reviving the careers of ousted frontbenchers.
The new Tory leader warned the UK is facing a “profound economic crisis” and braced the nation for “difficult decisions” as he criticised his predecessor’s record.
Eager to reassure the markets, Mr Sunak maintained Mr Hunt’s position in the Treasury after he was brought in to secure the economy after Ms Truss’s disastrous mini-budget.
The cost of Government borrowing dropped and the pound rallied to the highest level since before the chaos, as Mr Hunt warned it will be “tough” ahead of his Halloween financial statement.
Boris Johnson’s loyalists who stayed close to Ms Truss were among the 11 ministers who were out of government, while Mr Sunak rewarded allies with Cabinet roles.
Mr Raab won the positions of Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Secretary, roles he held under Mr Johnson before being sacked by Ms Truss.
Ms Braverman returned as Home Secretary six days after launching an attack on Ms Truss when she was forced from the role over a breach of the Ministerial Code.
The chief rebel behind Ms Truss’s U-turn on the top rate of income tax, Mr Gove returned to the Levelling Up Secretary role he was dismissed from after telling Mr Johnson to quit.
Steve Barclay, who supported both of Mr Sunak’s bids for the Tory leadership, became Health Secretary, returning to the role he lost under Ms Truss.
Grant Shapps was demoted from the top of the Home Office to Business Secretary to allow Ms Braverman’s return, as Kemi Badenoch clung on to Trade Secretary.
Having two popular figures on the Conservative right in prominent positions will be seen as a bid to bring together the warring party.
Penny Mordaunt came out of the reshuffle as Commons Leader, failing to win a promotion after she challenged Mr Sunak for the leadership.
Allies of Mr Sunak benefited, with Mel Stride appointed Work and Pensions Secretary and Oliver Dowden becoming Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, having resigned as party chairman after a disastrous double by-election loss under Mr Johnson.
Another ally of Mr Sunak, Mark Harper, was handed the role of Transport Secretary, while former Education Secretary Sir Gavin Williamson returns to Government as minister without portfolio in the Cabinet Office.
Therese Coffey, one of Ms Truss’s closest friends in Westminster, was demoted from deputy PM and health secretary to become Environment Secretary.
James Cleverly was kept on as Foreign Secretary and Ben Wallace as Defence Secretary, showing Mr Sunak was not entirely breaking with the past two administrations.
Simon Hart was brought in as Chief Whip to restore party discipline, with Mr Sunak having warned the party: “Unite or die.”
Kit Malthouse and Simon Clarke followed Mr Rees-Mogg out of the Cabinet as loyalists of Mr Johnson who stuck by Ms Truss.
Tory chairman Sir Jake Berry, a champion of Mr Johnson’s levelling up agenda, and chief whip Wendy Morton also departed.
More than an hour after Ms Truss defended her economic strategy in her farewell speech from Downing Street on Tuesday morning, Mr Sunak stood outside No 10 criticising her brief tenure.
Mr Sunak said his predecessor, whose 49 days in office made her the shortest-lasting PM in history, was “not wrong” to want to drive up growth, describing it as a “noble aim”.
“But some mistakes were made. Not born of ill will or bad intentions – quite the opposite in fact. But mistakes nonetheless,” he added.
“I’ve been elected as leader of my party and your Prime Minister in part to fix them – and that work begins immediately.”
Mr Sunak, 42, became the UK’s first Hindu PM, the first of Asian heritage and the youngest for more than 200 years when he was appointed by Charles at Buckingham Palace.
Ms Truss had used her valedictory speech to stress the need to be “bold” as she defended her tax-cutting ideals despite being forced to reverse most of her policies.
She made no apologies for her mini-budget and stressed the need for lower taxes, before wishing Mr Sunak “every success, for the good of our country”.
After Mr Sunak was pictured shaking the King’s hand during a formal handover of power in which the monarch was “graciously pleased to accept” Ms Truss’s resignation, he sought to explain why he was now Prime Minister.
“Right now our country is facing a profound economic crisis,” he warned, blaming the lingering aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic and Vladimir Putin’s destabilising war in Ukraine.
He vowed to place “economic stability and confidence at the heart of this Government’s agenda”, after the financial chaos triggered by Ms Truss.
“This will mean difficult decisions to come,” he said, but he promised to repeat the “compassion” he showed during the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr Sunak entered Downing Street after winning the swift Conservative leadership contest on Monday, with rivals Mr Johnson and Ms Mordaunt pulling their campaigns before a single vote was cast.
Mr Johnson, who had plotted a comeback less than two months after he resigned following a series of scandals, offered his “congratulations” to Mr Sunak just after his speech ended.
He welcomed the “historic day” and said “this is the moment for every Conservative to give our new PM their full and wholehearted support”.
As he became the third prime minister based on the mandate won by Mr Johnson in the 2019 general election, Mr Sunak vowed to deliver on the last manifesto’s promises.
“All I can say is that I am not daunted. I know the high office I have accepted and I hope to live up to its demands,” he said.
Copyright (c) PA Media Ltd. 2022, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) PA.