Rishi Sunak hit by Tory rows as he sacks Suella Braverman and brings back David Cameron in Cabinet reshuffle

Rishi Sunak pictured in Downing Street on Monday (REUTERS)
Rishi Sunak pictured in Downing Street on Monday (REUTERS)

Rishi Sunak is facing a double row in Westminster after sacking Suella Braverman and appointing former Prime Minister David Cameron as Foreign Secretary in a major Cabinet reshuffle.

Opposition and some Tory MPs questioned the return of Lord Cameron to Government given his key role in Brexit, past lobbying controversy and fact that he will sit in the Lords and will not face questions in the Commons Chamber.

No10 defended the appointment, stressing that the former Prime Minister would bring extensive experience to the Government at such a crucial time in foreign affairs with the Middle East conflict and Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine.

Lord Cameron said: “We are facing a daunting set of international challenges, including the war in Ukraine and the crisis in the Middle East. While I have been out of front line politics for the last seven years, I hope that my experience — as Conservative leader for 11 years and Prime Minister for six — will assist me in helping the Prime Minister to meet these vital challenges.”

Many Tory MPs in the Centre and Left of the party backed the sacking of Mrs Braverman.

But the Prime Minister faced a backlash from Rightwingers.

Conservative MP Dame Andrea Jenkyns even submitted a letter of no confidence in Mr Sunak following Monday's seismic shake-up, which began with Mrs Braverman being ousted from the Home Office.

Dame Andrea said on X, formerly Twitter, on Monday evening that "enough is enough".

"I have submitted my vote of no confidence letter to the Chairman of the 1922," she wrote. "It is time for Rishi Sunak to go and replace him with a ‘real’ Conservative party leader."

But few, if any, other MPs followed her move.

Mrs Braverman was dismissed after she was accused of stoking community tensions by alleging that the Metropolitan Police was biased in the way it dealt with protests ahead of the pro-Gaza march in London on Armistice Day.

Possibly ominously for the Prime Minister, she said on Monday she will have “more to say in due course” about her exit.

Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting also lambasted Monday's shake-up, describing it as yet another “Conservative clown show”.

As Mr Cameron made a shock return to frontline politics, Mr Streeting said the Government had exhausted all the viable names “at the bottom of the barrel”, adding: “So they are starting all over again.

David Cameron leaving Downing Street on Monday (PA Wire)
David Cameron leaving Downing Street on Monday (PA Wire)

"What kind of message does it send their constituents that their own party leader cannot find a suitable candidate for foreign secretary among the 350 Conservative MPs who sit in this House?" he taunted Tory MPs in the Commons.

The reshuffle also faced criticism for leaving the four great offices of state - Prime Minister, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Home Secretary and Foreign Secretary - held by privately-educated men for the first time since the Tories’ 2010 election win.

The new Cabinet is also slightly less diverse on the whole than the previous line-up.

The number of female Cabinet ministers has dropped from eight out of 23 (35 per cent) to seven out of 23 (30 per cent) The number of non-white Cabinet ministers has also fallen, from five out of 23 (22 per cent) to four out of 23 (17 per cent)

But Downing Street responded by saying it is not focused on “tick-box diversity”.

Mr Sunak's press secretary said: "This is about having a strong and united team that’s focused on delivering for the public and bringing in some of that experience, with David Cameron on the foreign policy brief to deliver the best for the country."

The former prime minister, who has been out of politics for around seven years, was given a seat in the Lords to become Foreign Secretary.

Lord Cameron said on Monday he wanted to be “part of the strongest possible team” that “can be presented to the country when the general election is held”.

The new Foreign Secretary insisted the Greensill affair which he was implicated in is “in the past” as he faced questions over accountability.

James Cleverly was shifted from the Foreign Office to replace Mrs Braverman as Home Secretary, while Jeremy Hunt remained as Chancellor.

Suella Braverman, pictured leaving her home in London on Monday (REUTERS)
Suella Braverman, pictured leaving her home in London on Monday (REUTERS)

Downing Street stressed that the Cabinet should always “speak with one voice” in highlighting the importance of collective responsibility binding ministers, explaining Mrs Braverman’s sacking.

Lord Cameron’s appointment was a massive shock in Westminster, not just because of the return of a former prime minister to government – the first since Alec Douglas-Home in the 1970s – but also because of his views on China.

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 has also been critical of Mr Sunak’s decision to scrap the northern leg of HS2, while the Prime Minister used his Tory conference speech to distance himself from the legacy of his predecessors.

But the former prime minister made it clear he backs Mr Sunak and will work with him to help the Tories win the general election, which is 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."