Rishi’s reset: Therese Coffey is OUT, Steve Barclay loses health to Vicky Atkins, Ric Holden is new Tory chair and Jeremy Hunt keeps No11 – as David Cameron and loyalists emerge as big winners from ‘shock and awe’ reshuffle
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Rishi Sunak rolled the dice for the election today as he jettisoned right-wingers and promoted loyalists in a ‘shock and awe’ reshuffle.
The PM kicked off a dramatic day by sacking Suella Braverman, and instead installing his close ally James Cleverly as Home Secretary.
That left the Foreign Office clear for the bombshell return of former PM David Cameron.
But there was worse news for other long-serving ministers, with Therese Coffey – who served as deputy PM under Liz Truss – leaving government. Health Secretary Steve Barclay has been shifted from Health Secretary to take that job, in what will be seen as a demotion.
Victoria Atkins has taken that key brief, as Mr Sunak tries to promote good TV performers ahead of the election.
Sunak loyalists are also doing well so far, with Ric Holden taking over from Greg Hands as Conservative Party chair and Laura Trott – Lord Cameron’s former speechwriter – becoming Chief Secretary to the Treasury.
Who’s in and who’s out?
Suella Braverman – was Home Secretary
Therese Coffey – was Environment Secretary
Jeremy Quin – was Paymaster General
James Cleverly – from Foreign Secretary to Home Secretary
Steve Barclay – from Health Secretary to Environment Secretary
David Cameron – Foreign Secretary
Ric Holden – Party Chair
Victoria Atkins – Health Secretary
Laura Trott – Chief Secretary to the Treasury
Jeremy Hunt – Chancellor
Mr Hunt staying as Chancellor with barely a week until the Autumn Statement, meaning that all four Great Offices of State are now held by men.
MPs vented fury at the ‘astonishing’ overhaul by the PM in his big reset before the election, ousting Ms Braverman after a series of bitter clashes.
Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, a close ally of Mr Sunak with less trenchant views on the European Convention on Human Rights, is taking over in the Home Office.
In a decision that sent an earthquake through Westminster, Mr Cameron has been handed Mr Cleverly’s old role. He receives a peerage so he can assume the government post, because he is not an MP.
He is the first member of the Upper House to hold the role since Lord Carrington in the 1980s, and the first ex-PM to return to Cabinet since Alec Douglas-Home in the 1970s.
Just weeks ago Lord Cameron condemned Mr Sunak’s decision to downgrade the HS2 rail project. Incredulous Tory MPs, who deeply deeply distrust the peer after he headed the Remain campaign before quitting in 2016, also slammed him for fostering closer relations with China as premier.
But jubilant arch-Remainer Lord Heseltine praised Mr Sunak for returning to the ‘centre ground’ and urged him to bring back George Osborne as well.
In a statement, Lord Cameron said: ‘We are facing a daunting set of international challenges, including the war in Ukraine and the crisis in the Middle East.
‘At this time of profound global change, it has rarely been more important for this country to stand by our allies, strengthen our partnerships and make sure our voice is heard.
‘While I have been out of front-line politics for the last seven years, I hope that my experience – as Conservative Leader for eleven years and Prime Minister for six – will assist me in helping the Prime Minister to meet these vital challenges.’
Westminster was shock as David Cameron emerged from an official car in Downing Street this morning to be made Foreign Secretary
Foreign Secretary James Cleverly (right) has taken over in the Home Office
Victoria Atkins has been confirmed as the new Health Secretary
Ric Holden is taking over from Greg Hands as Conservative Party chairman
Laura Trott – a former speechwriter for Lord Cameron – has been promoted to Chief Secretary to the Treasury today
Suella Braverman was sacked as Home Secretary by Rishi Sunak today
The now Lord Cameron said he had ‘gladly accepted’ the appointment as Foreign Secretary
The sacking of Ms Braverman came after an extraordinary week of rowing over handling of pro-Palestinian protests in London on Armistice Day.
She drew the fury of No10 by lashing out at ‘hate marches’ and then penning an article accusing the police of bias without getting it cleared.
Critics have blamed her for inflaming violence with far-right counter-protesters taking to the streets – although the Tories are badly split with supporters saying the grim scenes in the capital proved her right.
In other developments, Liz Truss’s former deputy Therese Coffey has quit as Environment Secretary. Steve Barclay is widely expected to be shifted to her old brief, while Victoria Atkins could be promoted to his role as Health Secretary.
The stunning moves triggered turmoil on Conservative WhatsApp groups, with one message seen by Sky News saying: ‘WTAF!!!! DC had to resign because he failed to stand up to the EU and is completely gutless, he won’t be able to address the HOC at questions whilst we are actually witnessing two major conflicts and finally he is an unelected FS appointed by an unelected PM. Let’s see how this one plays out….’
With extreme sarcasm, one former minister in the right-wing ERG bloc told MailOnline: ‘We’re ecstatic. All we need is for Tobias Ellwood to be Defence Secretary and our joy will be complete.’
Junior ministers join Braverman in leaving government
Suella Braverman was not the only departure from the Government today as a slew of long-serving ministers chose to resign today.
Three ministers confirmed they were using the reshuffle to voluntarily step down, rather than because they were allied to the former Home Secretary.
Schools minister Nick Gibb announced he was standing down from the role after three terms spanning nine years.
The veteran minister, who has been the Conservative MP for Bognor Regis and Littlehampton in West Sussex for 26 years, said he had been ‘discussing taking up a diplomatic role’ after the general election and had asked Mr Sunak if he could step down at the reshuffle and he had agreed.
He has overseen curriculum and exam reforms during his tenure and has been an advocate of phonics as a method of teaching children to read.
Additionally, Jesse Norman, the MP for Hereford and South Herefordshire, said he has quit as a minister in the Department for Transport. He had previously held posts in the Treasury and Foreign Office.
Will Quince has also quit as a minister in the Department of Health and Social Care. He said he was leaving as he was standing down at the next election and would now focus on his training as a specialist reserve officer in the Army and his work as a constituency MP.
Another ERG member acknowledged that the appointment of Mr Cameron had ‘shock value’. ‘It completely takes the limelight away from Suella’s departure.’
A Tory insider said Mr Sunak was engaged in ‘top trolling of the right’. Ex-Cabinet minister Iain Duncan Smith, who has been sanctioned by China, said it was ‘astonishing’ to see Lord Cameron back.
‘It suggests that Sunak is intent on doing business with China at all costs,’ he told The Times.
A Downing Street source said: ‘Rishi Sunak has asked Suella Braverman to leave government and she has accepted.’
In an ominous response, Ms Braverman said: ‘It has been the greatest privilege of my life to serve as Home Secretary. I will have more to say in due course.’
Ms Braverman had sounded defiance last night despite mounting speculation about her fate, releasing a statement saying pro-Gaza demos ‘polluting’ the streets with hate ‘can’t go on’. She slammed the ‘valorising of terrorism’ on Armistice Day and said further action was needed.
Briefing out of No10 overnight suggested that the government is looking at toughening up the rules for police blocking such protests – which have been happening weekly in the capital.
Having held off before the Remembrance weekend, Downing Street seems to have decided it must act before a key court judgment on the Rwanda policy on Wednesday.
The government is braced to lose the case, with concerns that Ms Braverman might have attempted to burnish her credentials with the Tory right by quitting and demanding the UK leaves the European Convention on Human Rights.
The Conservatives announced the reshuffle was starting with a message on social media saying Mr Sunak is ‘strengthening his team… to deliver long-term decisions for a brighter future’.
Other major jobs are expected to switch hands.
Lower down the food chain, health minister Neil O’Brien and long-serving education minister Nick Gibb have announced they are leaving government.
Another health minister, Will Quince, has quit ahead of standing down at the next election.
Former minister Andrea Jenkyns said Ms Braverman had been ‘sacked for speaking the truth’, and it was a ‘bad call by Rishi caving in to the left’.
Although Lord Cameron’s comeback triggered sharp intakes of breath on the right, it was hailed by some of his former allies.
Theresa May posted on the X social media site: ‘Congratulations to @DavidCameron on his return to government.
‘His immense experience on the international stage will be invaluable at this time of great uncertainty in our world. Looking forward to working together again!’
Lord Cameron is the first former prime minister to return to government since Alec Douglas-Home.
During the Cameron administration there was a ‘golden era’ of UK-China co-operation, something Mr Sunak described as ‘naive’ last year following growing tensions with Beijing.
Lord Cameron had also been critical of Mr Sunak’s decision to scrap the northern leg of HS2, while the PM used his Tory conference speech to distance himself from the legacy of his predecessors.
But the former premier made clear he backed Mr Sunak and would work with him to help the Tories win the general election expected next year.
The new Foreign Secretary said: ‘Though I may have disagreed with some individual decisions, it is clear to me that Rishi Sunak is a strong and capable Prime Minister, who is showing exemplary leadership at a difficult time.
‘I want to help him to deliver the security and prosperity our country needs and be part of the strongest possible team that serves the United Kingdom and that can be presented to the country when the general election is held. ‘
Mr Cleverly was asked if he wanted to distance himself from the language of his predecessor Ms Braverman.
He told broadcasters: ‘Well, I intend to do this job in the way I feel best protects the British people and our interests.
‘I have had a very good conversation with the Prime Minister, who had made it very clear that he wants us to deliver on our promises to stop the boats, to protect the British people, make sure everybody feels secure in their lives.’
News of Mrs Braverman’s exit came as defence minister James Heappey was touring broadcast studios.
Minutes before she was sacked, he had told LBC that Mr Sunak and his team in No 10 had been ‘very clear she (Mrs Braverman) has his confidence and, in that sense, one would imagine that she will continue’.
But he was told on air during an ITV Good Morning Britain interview that she had been sacked, leaving him to say: ‘Your viewers will be enjoying my discomfort, but it is in this case difficult to offer commentary when I just don’t know what is going on.’
Labour frontbencher Pat McFadden immediately seized on the return for Lord Cameron.
‘A few weeks ago Rishi Sunak said David Cameron was part of a failed status quo, now he’s bringing him back as his life raft,’ he said.
‘This puts to bed the Prime Minister’s laughable claim to offer change from 13 years of Tory failure.’
More than 100 arrests were made after clashes involving far-Right groups and pro-Palestine protesters in central London on Saturday.
Mrs Braverman’s intervention came as speculation rages about her political future after she clashed with Downing Street over a newspaper article, which critics said inflamed tensions.
Mr Cameron is the first member of the Upper House to hold the role since Lord Carrington in the 1980s
The Conservatives announced the reshuffle was starting with a message on social media saying Mr Sunak is ‘strengthening his team… to deliver long-term decisions for a brighter future’
Although Lord Cameron’s comeback triggered sharp intakes of breath on the right, it was hailed by some of his former allies
The Tories are lagging far behind in the polls with MPs increasingly nervous about Mr Sunak’s failure to make an impact
Police detain a man during protests in central London on Saturday
Ahead of Saturday’s protest, the Home Secretary branded it a ‘hate march’ and accused officers of ‘playing favourites’ with protesters. Last night, amid rumours of a Cabinet reshuffle, she doubled down on her comments.
In uncompromising language, Mrs Braverman tweeted that chants, placards and posters carried by some protesters were ‘clearly criminal’ and marked a ‘new low’.
She added: ‘Anti-Semitism and other forms of racism together with the valorising of terrorism on such a scale is deeply troubling.
‘This can’t go on. Week by week, the streets of London are being polluted by hate, violence, and anti-Semitism. Members of the public are being mobbed and intimidated. Jewish people in particular feel threatened. Further action is necessary.’
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