Last night the first Conservative, Dame Andrea Jenkyns, submitted a letter of no confidence in the Prime Minister to the 1922 Committee over his handling of the now-former home secretary.
And insiders on the Right of the party said they were planning to create chaos from today onwards, warning: ‘This will now turn into a slow-motion car crash for the Prime Minister.’
MPs angered by Mrs Braverman’s dismissal were meeting last night to decide their ‘next steps’.
Mr Sunak is understood to have been contacted by dozens of backbenchers from the Right of the party over the weekend urging him not to get rid of Mrs Braverman, who was seen as one of their key figures in Cabinet. The approaches included co-ordinated letters from backbench groups which were also signed by about ten Tory peers, supporters said.
Some MPs also wrote individual letters privately to the PM, it is understood.
Rishi Sunak has been warned of ‘civil war’ in his party as it emerged almost 50 Tory MPs voiced ardent support for Suella Braverman before her sacking
Mr Sunak appeared in bullish mood as he gave a speech on foreign policy at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet at London’s Guildhall following his reshuffle
Rishi Sunak’s Cabinet reshuffle raised some eyebrows with the return of David Cameron to government
In all, they claimed backing from about 60 MPs and peers, in contrast with No 10 who last week indicated she had secured just half a dozen advocates.
However, yesterday morning a No 10 source said the PM ‘asked Suella Braverman to leave Government and she has accepted’. Mrs Braverman fired a warning shot within minutes of her sacking being announced, making clear she would not remain silent from the backbenches.
She said in a statement: ‘It has been the greatest privilege of my life to serve as home secretary. I will have more to say in due course.’
She refused to comment further yesterday afternoon as she arrived back at her Hertfordshire home, where she was dropped off in a blacked-out grey van rather than by ministerial car.
One Tory source said: ‘The way Suella has been targeted will mean civil war in the party. Letters urging the PM not to fire her have simply been ignored. People are absolutely furious.’
Another ally said: ‘The way No 10 have handled all this is pretty much ‘amateur hour’. Her team was sanguine about it. They’ve been expecting it.’ Former minister Dame Andrea posted her letter to the 1922 on X, formerly known as Twitter.
She said: ‘If it wasn’t bad enough that we have a party leader the party members rejected, the polls demonstrate that the public reject him, and I am in full agreement. It is time for Rishi Sunak to go.’
Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg came out publicly to insist Mr Sunak had made a ‘mistake’ by firing Mrs Braverman
Former Conservative MEP and Braverman ally David Campbell Bannerman posted on social media: ‘Rishi has pressed the self-destruct button’
Dame Andrea Jenkyns was the first Tory MP to right a letter of no confidence in Mr Sunak to the 1922 Committee over his handling of the sacking of Mrs Braverman
A picture released by No10 of the PM chatting with David Cameron as he appointed him Foreign Secretary this morning
Rishi Sunak attends the annual Lord Mayor’s Banquet at the Guildhall in central London
The PM installed James Cleverly as the new Home Secretary after sacking Suella Braverman first thing today
In what looks like a sop to the right, Esther McVey – who also served in the ex-PM’s governments – was bizarrely made Cabinet minister for ‘common sense’
She said that Mrs Braverman ‘was the only person in the Cabinet with the balls to speak the truth of the appalling state of our streets and a two-tier policing system that leaves Jewish community in fear for their safety’.
Letters of support for Mrs Braverman came from a ‘loose coalition’ of Tory MPs aligned with groups on the Right of the party.
Former Cabinet minister Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg came out publicly to insist Mr Sunak had made a ‘mistake’ by firing Mrs Braverman.
‘Suella understands what the country thinks about migration,’ he told GB News. ‘It seems to me that the PM is not as well attuned to the voters’ concerns as Suella Braverman.’
Sir Jacob said Mrs Braverman had been sacked for following policy ‘too loudly’.
Former Conservative MEP and Braverman ally David Campbell Bannerman posted on social media: ‘Rishi has pressed the self-destruct button.’
Tory MP and Liz Truss ally Sir Simon Clarke also appeared to take aim at the PM’s reshuffle. Using a football analogy, he wrote on X: ‘Never wise to lack options on the Right wing – the squad risks being badly unbalanced.’
While Lord David Frost wrote in The Telegraph the reshuffle was taking the country ‘back to the past’.
‘Iain Dale, the LBC radio host and supposedly conservative commentator, ‘a big welcome back to David Cameron. ‘Daddy’s home’, as someone just texted me’. That, I’m afraid, says it all,’ he wrote.
While any hope of a Tory win and the next general election ‘had died’, a senior Tory backbencher is reported as saying in The Times.
A source close to the members of the New Conservatives Group said Mr Sunak’s decision to oust Mrs Braverman had caused a lot of upset.
While critics pointed to the fact the four great offices of state are being held by privately educated men for the first time since the Tories came to power more than a decade ago.
The Times reported a former cabinet minister as saying today marked the day when defeat became a certainty.
Dame Andrea posted a copy of the letter on social media in which she says ‘enough is enough’ after the PM’s reshuffle and says ‘it is time for Rishi Sunak to go’
Westminster was in shock as David Cameron was unveiled as the new Foreign Secretary this morning
Mr Cameron speaks with former Foreign Secretary Mr Cleverly after his shock return to government
Images of Mr Sunak appointing other ministers including Laura Trott were also issued by Downing Street
After a long and punishing day of reshuffling, Mr Sunak was delivering a speech on foreign policy at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet tonight
‘It’s a sign that the government has chosen its bed and it’s not where the majority of our voters are,’ they said.
Mrs Braverman’s dismissal was branded as ‘totally inept’ by one government source in The Times.
She was said to be ‘pretty sanguine’ about her dismissal and although she so far has remained fairly tight-lipped she is said be biding her time to say her piece when ‘the time is right’, according to one ally.
It means she is likely to become an outspoken critic of Mr Sunak from the backbenches during a crucial period for the Government on immigration policy.
The Supreme Court will rule on the Rwanda asylum scheme tomorrow. If the justices uphold a previous ruling which declared the policy unlawful on human rights grounds it will cause a major headache for Mr Sunak and his new Home Secretary James Cleverly.
The Right of the party will intensify their demands to ditch the European Convention on Human Rights, a move that Mrs Braverman has backed.
In a further complication, figures on immigration levels are due to be published by the Office for National Statistics next week. If they shows a further surge in net migration – beyond last year’s record 606,000 – it will trigger further calls from parts of the Tory party for tougher border measures.
Alp Mehmet, chairman of the influential campaign group Migration Watch, described Mrs Braverman’s removal as ‘very disappointing news’.
‘Her courage and determination to say what a majority of the public think will be a serious loss to the country,’ he added.
Then in a dramatic twist that stunned Westminster, David Cameron arrived in Downing Street, was handed a peerage and installed in the Foreign Office, seven years after he quit Downing Street in the wake of the Brexit referendum.
The changes remove the Cabinet’s most high-profile Right-winger and revive the political career of the man who led the campaign to keep Britain in the EU.
Dame Andrea Jenkyns last night became the first Conservative MP to submit a formal letter of no confidence in the PM, saying Mrs Braverman had been ‘sacked for speaking the truth’. Conservative donor Lord Cruddas, a close ally of Boris Johnson, described the moves as a ‘coup’.
Victoria Atkins looked delighted after Mr Sunak appointed her Health Secretary in his Cabinet reshuffle
Steve Barclay was replaced as Health Secretary but remained part of the PM’s top team after he was demoted to replace Therese Coffey as Environment Secretary
Lee Rowley was appointed housing minister at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, replacing Rachel Maclean
Foreign Secretary James Cleverly (right) has taken over in the Home Office. In a decision that sent an earthquake through Westminster David Cameron (left) has taken over Mr Cleverly’s old job
And former business secretary Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg said sacking Mrs Braverman was ‘a mistake’, warning that the return of Lord Cameron could push Tory Brexiteers into the arms of the Reform party.
‘Suella understood what the British voter thought and was trying to do something about it,’ he said. ‘It seems to me that the Prime Minister is not as well attuned to the voters’ concerns as Suella Braverman.’
But Downing Street sources said Mr Sunak had grown frustrated with Mrs Braverman’s high-profile public interventions, which stretched the boundaries of collective responsibility.
Explaining her removal, a spokesman said the PM believed the Cabinet should always ‘speak with one voice’.
Tory Remainers were jubilant at the shake-up. Former deputy PM Lord Heseltine said the removal of Mrs Braverman and the return of Lord Cameron were ‘excellent news’ – and urged Mr Sunak to go further by recalling George Osborne to government.
‘This is the clearest signal that the sort of Right-wing lurch that we’ve seen and the anti-European movement that we’ve seen have been put to bed, and that will get a message across to people,’ Lord Heseltine said.
Theresa May said Lord Cameron’s experience in government would be ‘invaluable at this time of great uncertainty in our world’.
Former Tory Cabinet minister Lord Vaizey, however, warned that the reshuffle would trigger a ‘showdown between the Right, around Suella Braverman, and the mainstream Conservative Party.’
In other moves:
- Mrs Braverman hinted that she will hit back at Mr Sunak in the coming days;
- Environment Secretary Therese Coffey, who served as deputy PM under Liz Truss was sacked and replaced by former health secretary Steve Barclay;
- Tory rising star Victoria Atkins was catapulted into the Cabinet as Health Secretary; n Conservative chairman Greg Hands was replaced by Red Wall MP Richard Holden after overseeing a string of heavy by-election defeats;
- Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle raised concerns about Lord Cameron’s appointment, saying it was vital for MPs to hold a foreign secretary to account.
- Mr Sunak suffered an exodus of middle ranking ministers, with Jeremy Quin, Neil O’Brien, Will Quince and long-serving education minister Nick Gibb among them;
- Lord Cameron’s ex-aide Laura Trott was made chief secretary to the Treasury;
- Mr Sunak made the 16th change to the role of housing minister since 2010, with Brexiteer Lee Rowley returning to the job;
- Tory deputy chairman Lee Anderson, who backed Mrs Braverman to stay, last night attended a meeting of supporters who were said to be ‘far from pleased’ by her removal;
- No 10 dismissed criticism that there were no women in the top five jobs, saying that the PM did not believe in ‘tick box diversity’.
Loyalist Richard Holden – who was deputy head of the Tory press office when Lord Cameron was premier – becomes party chairman
Suella Braverman was sacked as Home Secretary by Rishi Sunak today
Former deputy PM Therese Coffey (right) has returned to the backbenches, while Steve Barclay (left) looks to have lost a battle to stay at health
Worryingly for the PM, a snap YouGov poll has found that just 24 per cent of Brits think the return of Lord Cameron is a good idea, compared to 38 per cent who fear it is a bad one
The now Lord Cameron said he had ‘gladly accepted’ the appointment as Foreign Secretary
In a bold move, he also recalled former TV presenter Esther McVey to the Cabinet as a new ‘minister for common sense’ in charge of rooting out woke culture in Whitehall and the public sector.
Ms McVey’s new role is designed in part to reassure traditional supporters that the PM has not ‘caved in’ to the Left, who were baying for Mrs Braverman’s removal.
The 56-year-old former GMTV host has served as work and pensions secretary and is known for her no-nonsense views.
She holds the official title of minister without portfolio at the Cabinet Office. But government sources said she would act as the ‘minister for common sense’, with a brief to work across government rooting out woke ideology and practices.
The appointment of Lord Cameron is the most sensational Cabinet return since Gordon Brown brought back Peter Mandelson 15 years ago.
Government sources told the Mail that Mr Sunak has been using the former PM as a sounding board for months and approached him about a return to government more than a week ago as his frustration with Mrs Braverman reached breaking point.
But the hire brought dissent, with former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith saying Lord Cameron’s close links to China made him unsuitable to represent the UK abroad.
Sir Iain, one of a number of MPs sanctioned by Beijing, said: ‘The appointment of David Cameron to the Foreign Office is deeply disappointing because he has been so heavily involved with China – he was the architect of the so-called Golden Era and he’s been working with China ever since.
‘It does feel like the Government is signalling a new approach of ‘China or bust’ and that does not bode well for this country.’
Mr Sunak is also likely to face questions about the new Foreign Secretary’s opposition to Brexit and his controversial business dealings since leaving office.
Lord Cameron faced embarrassment over an affair in which he privately lobbied ministers in a bid to win Greensill Capital access to an emergency coronavirus loan scheme.
Mrs Braverman was sacked shortly after 8am. Whitehall sources said her fate was sealed days earlier when she claimed that homelessness was a ‘lifestyle choice’ – a comment that enraged many Tory moderates and which was seen as the final straw by Mr Sunak.