High-profile backbench MPs Miriam Cates and Danny Kruger release statement registering concern over reshuffle
Rishi Sunak took something of a risk when he decided to sack Suella Braverman. Her hardline, anti-immigration rhetoric was popular, not just with rightwing MPs, but with most of the Tory press (particularly the Daily Mail), and this morning those papers might have come out in her defence.
But, judging by their editorials, they are broadly supportive of Sunak. They have not turned on him – at least today.
Moving the impressive James Cleverly to Home Secretary is smart, as is appointing Esther McVey as ‘Common Sense Tsar’ to oversee the anti-woke agenda.
Will this be enough to placate the Tory Right? Only time will tell, but any MP who thinks salvation lies in yet more no- confidence letters – and trying to unseat another leader – needs their head testing.
The seeds of his downfall were planted that year when his promise of an EU referendum was included in the Tory manifesto, not least to see off a populist threat from Ukip. Mr Sunak is facing something similar in that the country is increasingly alarmed by high levels of immigration, both legal and illegal, and extremism. The recent pro-Palestinian marches and the rise of anti-Semitic hatred have brought much of this to a head.
Mrs Braverman articulated many of these concerns, and those who agree with her will be angry that she has been dropped, seeing it as appeasing the Left and deepening Tory divisions.
[Cameron’s] central achievement in 11 years as party leader, often overlooked after the Brexit debacle, was to give the Conservative party a much broader base. In his time, great strides were made in making sure a fiscally conservative party was also socially liberal and internationalist: advancing the careers of women in politics, championing same-sex marriage, expanding development aid and becoming the natural home of ethnically diverse British leadership, of whom Rishi Sunak himself is the outstanding embodiment.
Cameron’s renewed prominence is a reminder that the cabinet in which he will be sitting is mainstream and centre-right, looking to reduce taxation but only in a financially responsible way, controlling migration effectively but without divisive language, improving the UK’s relations with Europe while eschewing nationalistic rhetoric. That is what Sunak has been doing but against the backdrop of mixed messages from former PMs and some of his own cabinet. The Conservatives after this reshuffle are more unmistakably the party that some of its disenchanted former voters will recognise as their own.