Rishi gets the band back together after massive cabinet purge

The new prime minister has began making appointments after clearing out Liz Truss’ cabinet (Picture: Reuters)

Rishi Sunak has purged Liz Truss’ cabinet – but we feel like we’ve seen his new top team somewhere before.

Britain’s third prime minister in 50 days has made a raft of appointments after sacking more than a third of the government’s most senior ministers on his first day in the job.

Jeremy Hunt and Ben Wallace will remain in post to provide continuity on the economy and Ukraine, Boris Johnson-backer James Cleverly survives the overhaul and close Truss ally Therese Coffey has been moved to the environment department.

Elsewhere, Mr Sunak has turned to some familiar faces to rebuild the government, including the controversial reappointment of Suella Braverman.

The former-leadership contender has sensationally returned to the Home Office less than a week after she resigned over a security breach, replacing Grant Shapps, who has been moved to the business department.

Labour’s Yvette Cooper has strongly criticised the move, accusing the PM of putting ‘party before country’, adding: ‘Security is too important for this irresponsible Tory chaos.’

Dominic Raab has been rewarded for his loyalty by being appointed justice secretary, as well as inheriting the deputy PM title from Ms Coffey, two roles he has held previously.

Dominic Raab, one of the new PM’s loyalist backers, has been brought back into government (Picture: Downing Street)
James Cleverly has survived the cull despite calling on Tories to bring Boris Johnson back (Picture: Reuters)
Suella Braverman admitted a security breach less than a week ago but has pulled off an immediate return (Picture: Reuters)

Just 67 days after calling time on his frontline politics career, veteran minister Michael Gove is back as levelling up secretary, the job he was sacked from in July.

Steve Barclay, who held cabinet roles under Theresa May and Mr Johnson, is back in government and running the health department, a job he briefly held earlier this year.

The PM has turned to some old hands as he moves to tighten his grip on the Tory political machine, including by bringing close ally Oliver Dowden into government to serve as a behind-the-scenes fixer.

Ex-Welsh secretary Simon Hart has been made chief whip and will be tasked with enforcing party loyalty during what is certain to be a testing time for the government.

Nadhim Zahawi has been made a minister without portfolio and will act as Conservative Party chairman in the run-up to the next general election.

Michael Gove is another familiar figure who looks to be making a return to government (Picture: PA)
Jeremy Hunt is remaining in post after being drafted in to the Treasury and carry out a full U-turn on Liz Truss’ economic plans (Picture: Getty)

Penny Mordaunt, who stood against Mr Sunak to be leader and threatened to block his coronation, has been denied a promotion, a move which risks alienating some MPs.

There had been speculation she could be handed a more senior role in recognition of the significant backing she attracted in two leadership elections but will instead remain as leader of the House of Commons.

Amid a deja vu reshuffle, junior minister Gillian Keegan’s appointment as education secretary marks the closest thing to a shock appointment.

She replaces Kit Malthouse, a long-tie supporter of Mr Johnson, and becomes the department’s fifth boss in just four months.

Senior backbencher and Treasury select committee chair Mel Stride’s appointment as work and pensions chief also represents a major step up.

New Tory party chairman Nadhim Zahawi greets Michelle Donelan as she’s summoned to Number 10 to receive a promotion (Picture: PA)
More than one third of those at Liz Truss’ final cabinet meeting this morning have been sacked (Picture: Downing Street)

Mr Sunak was formally invited to form a government by King Charles at Buckingham Palace less than 24 hours after being elected unopposed as leader of the Conservative Party.

The re-shuffle marks the third time in less than four months that the government has been completely reconfigured under different leaders.

Business secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg, who campaigned against Mr Sunak in two leadership elections and warned his party last week it was ‘Boris or bust’, has left his role.

Ms Truss’ levelling up secretary Simon Clarke, who worked closely with the new PM in the Treasury before turning on him in the summer leadership election, has been ousted.

Chief whip Wendy Morton is also gone, days after Number 10 were unable to clarify whether or not she had resigned over a shambolic ‘confidence vote’ in the House of Commons.

Welsh secretary Jake Buckland, who switched from Mr Sunak to Ms Truss in the summer leadership election, and Conservative Party chairman Jake Berry, one of Mr Johnson’s closest allies, are both out.

The new PM was greeted by officials and civil servants after entering Number 10 for the first time (Picture: Downing Street)

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Liz Truss bid farewell to Number 10 after her brief and turbulent premiership formally ended this morning (Picture: Downing Street)

Foreign office minister Vicky Ford, justice secretary Brandon Lewis and work and pensions secretary Chloe Smith have also left government. 

In his first speech to the country as PM, Mr Sunak paid tribute to his predecessor before vowing to turn the economy around and deliver the 2019 Tory manifesto, warning ‘difficult decisions’ on cuts will be needed.

He said: ‘I admired [Ms Truss’] restlessness to create change. But some mistakes were made. 

‘Not borne of ill will or bad intentions. Quite the opposite, in fact. But mistakes, nonetheless. 

‘And I have been elected as leader of my party and your prime minister, in part, to fix them.’

Ms Truss gave her farewell speech from the same spot a few hours before. She said: ‘I look forward to spending more time in my constituency and continuing to serve southwest Norfolk from the back benches.

‘Our country continues to battle through a storm. But I believe in Britain, I believe in the British people and I know that brighter days lie ahead.’

MORE : Rishi’s most awkward moments – from ‘Coke addict’ gaffe to ‘no working-class friends’

MORE : Rishi Sunak’s first speech as Prime Minister in full

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