David Cameron to return to cabinet table as Rishi Sunak meets with new top team

Rishi Sunak will meet with his new cabinet today after a dramatic shakeup of his top team saw David Cameron make an unexpected return to frontline politics.

In a major gamble to revive his faltering premiership, the prime minister gave the former Tory leader a peerage in order to make him foreign secretary.

It means the now Lord Cameron will be back around the Cabinet table on Tuesday for the first time since he stood down as prime minister and quit as an MP after losing the Brexit referendum in 2016.

The reshuffle has risked inflaming Conservative divisions as it included the sacking of controversial home secretary Suella Braverman - a popular figure on the right of the party.

Ms Braverman was purged after she accused the Metropolitan Police of left-wing bias in its handling of protests in an article for The Times which was not fully authorised by Number 10. She had also come under criticism in previous weeks for saying that homeless people living in tents was a "lifestyle choice".

Former minister Andrea Jenkyns submitted a furious letter of no confidence in Mr Sunak to the Tory backbench 1922 Committee in the wake of the decision.

She argued that Ms 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 lives and safety".

"If it wasn't bad enough that we have a party leader that 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," the MP added.

The letter does not in itself threaten to provoke a vote of no confidence in the Conservative leader, as the threshold stands at 15% of sitting Tory MPs.

But Number 10 may be wary of more to come after a group of hardline Tory MPs held a meeting in parliament on Monday where concerns were shared about the reshuffle.

Around 12 MPs, including Tory deputy chairman Lee Anderson and former cabinet minister Simon Clarke attended in person at the New Conservatives grouping led by Danny Kruger and Miriam Cates.

Other MPs to criticise Ms Braverman's removal include Sir Jacob Rees Mogg, who warned that the Conservatives "are in danger" of losing votes to the right-wing Reform party.

The former Brexit minister said while Ms Braverman was prepared to leave the European Convention on Human Rights (EHRC) to enact the controversial Rwanda deportation plan, currently held up in the courts, her successor James Cleverly has signalled he does not want to do this.

"There is a distinct watering down on the migration policy," he told BBC Newsnight.

Ms Braverman has said little about her departure so far but in a potentially ominous warning to Mr Sunak, said she would have more to say "in due course".

Meanwhile former cabinet secretary Therese Villiers told the Politics Hub with Sophy Ridge she would be a "force to be reckoned with" on the backbenches.

Mr Cleverly, the former foreign secretary, has insisted he will be just as committed to the government's "stop the boats pledge" in his new role.

His appointment is likely to face more scrutiny in the coming days, with a Supreme Court judgement due on Wednesday on whether the much-delayed Rwanda plan is lawful.

But for the moment it has largely been overshadowed by the political comeback of Lord Cameron.

Cameron comeback massive shock

The 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.

Read More:
Sunak reshuffle shows he's done with playing it safe
Rishi Sunak's claim to be 'change candidate' is tested by return of David Cameron

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."

The appointment has raised questions about how he will be held to account if he can't answer to MPs in the Commons.

He also faces questions over the Greensill affair, in which he privately lobbied ministers in an attempt to win Greensill Capital access to an emergency coronavirus loan scheme.

This was seized on by opposition MPs who criticised the "clown show" reshuffle, which also saw Steve Barclay take Therese Coffey's job as environment secretary, while Victoria Atkins became health secretary.

In another key appointment, GB News presenter and former work and pensions secretary Esther McVey was brought back into government as a minister without portfolio, reportedly to "speak common sense" on behalf of the government and push forward its "anti-woke" agenda, in a conciliatory move to the Tory right.

However many of the party's One Nation MPs - closer to the centre of politics - may welcome the return of Lord Cameron, who secured them two victories at general elections and is well known internationally.

Former health secretary Matt Hancock said of the reshuffle: "Excellent for the Conservatives, showing Rishi Sunak will fight the election on the centre ground."