Rishi Sunak has sacked a third of Liz Truss’s cabinet but he has made an important exception for the chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, who remains in his job. Hunt, a former foreign secretary, lost out to Boris Johnson in the Tory leadership contest in 2019. He tried again earlier this year but was knocked out at an early stage.
Truss brought him in as chancellor after sacking her close friend, Kwasi Kwarteng, after the latter’s “mini-budget” practically crashed the economy. Now, much depends on the new fiscal plans that will be announced by Hunt on October 31. Penny Mordaunt, his rival for the premiership, remains the leader of the Commons. In an attempt to achieve continuity and reach out to all parts of the Conservative party, he has brought back several old faces — which may not be universally popular.
Suella Braverman, who has taken a hard line on immigration and resigned from Truss’s cabinet, is back as home secretary. This may be a controversial appointment. Dominic Raab, who has been one of Rishi’s strongest supporters, has been appointed deputy Prime Minister and justice secretary. James Cleverly remains as foreign secretary, and Ben Wallace stays at defence at a critical time because of the war in Ukraine.
Nadhim Zahawi, who was chancellor in the last days of Boris Johnson’s premiership before Truss made him chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, has been made “minister without portfolio”. That means he will be the party chairman. Oliver Dowden, a former culture secretary under Boris, is now chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. In an instance of one Indian demoting another Indian, Alok Sharma, who backed Boris for a return for the premiership before the latter withdrew from the race, has been removed from the cabinet and stripped of his ministerial rank but he will remain in charge of climate change as president of COP 26.
Rishi wants to avoid the mistake Truss made which was to surround herself only with those who had backed her in the leadership contest. But those who have either resigned or sacked by Rishi are the Sri Lankan origin Ranil Jayawardena (environment secretary); Robert Buckland (Welsh secretary); Wendy Morton (chief whip); Brandon Lewis (justice secretary); Chloe (work and pensions secretary); Vicky Ford (development minister at the foreign office); Simon Clarke (levelling up secretary); and Jake Berry (Conservative party chairman). Jacob Rees-Mogg, the business secretary, who had called Rishi a “socialist” because he had refused to cut taxes — he longer thinks the Prime Minister is a socialist — has resigned.