On his first full day as Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak met his new Cabinet on Wednesday before facing opposition leader Keir Starmer in Prime Minister Questions
London: Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Wednesday, October 26, 2022, held his first Cabinet meeting with the new team as he prepares for his debut at Prime Minister’s Questions, the first big test of Britain’s Indian-origin premier’s leadership. On his first full day as Prime Minister, Sunak met his new Cabinet on Wednesday before facing opposition leader Keir Starmer in Prime Minister Questions (PMQs) at midday, the BBC reported. PMQs is a high-profile weekly event in UK politics, happening every Wednesday at noon when the House of Commons is sitting. For around half an hour, the prime minister is called to the despatch box in the Commons chamber to answer questions from MPs on any subject.
The leader of the opposition gets to ask six questions – normally the rowdiest part of the spectacle. A picture of the new cabinet has also been released, with Sunak heading the government for the first time. Sunak on Tuesday unveiled his top team in place with key Cabinet appointments and decided to keep the new Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, in place for economic stability and brought back Indian-origin Suella Braverman as Home Secretary.
In another move aimed at continuity, James Cleverly will stay in his post as Foreign Secretary despite not being a Sunak loyalist. Braverman, whose scathing resignation letter precipitated Liz Truss’ exit from Downing Street last week, is a fellow Bexiteer like Sunak.
Minister Without Portfolio Nadhim Zahawi told journalists the party was “very, very united” as he departed after the Cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street. Sunak has pledged to govern with “integrity” and has tried to unite the Conservatives by including people from different wings of the party in his top team.
Labour Party’s criticism
But the Opposition Labour Party has criticised the decision to reappoint Braverman, popular on the Tory right, as a home secretary just six days after she resigned over data breaches, the report said. Sunak’s first Cabinet meeting was held amid criticism over his reappointment of Braverman as home secretary.
Foreign Secretary James Cleverly – who’s kept his job under new Prime Minister Sunak – has defended the prime minister’s decision to reappoint Braverman to the role of home secretary. Braverman was forced to resign from the job – in the dying days of Truss’s premiership – just last week over two data breaches.
“She said she made a mistake and apologised for that,” Cleverly told the BBC. He adds that Braverman has promised a crackdown on crime and to secure borders while in the Home Office.
Asked whether Braverman is back in the post as the result of a deal that helped Sunak gain power, Cleverly says Sunak was “way, way, way ahead” during the latest Conservative leadership contest, adding: “I doubt that he needed any particular individuals’ endorsement.”
Labour’s shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson says Braverman is back in her job as the result of a “grubby deal” which helped Sunak “get over the line and become prime minister”. Speaking to the Today programme on BBC Radio 4, Phillipson argued that this calls into question Sunak’s pledge to run a government of integrity. She said that the discussion “should be about the future of our country, not the future of the Conservative Party”.
Sunak, a 42-year-old investment banker-turned-politician, is the youngest British prime minister in 210 years. He is also Britain’s first Hindu Prime Minister. Sunak’s victory in the Tory leadership race came at the end of a dramatic few days in Westminster since Liz Truss resigned last Thursday in the wake of a disastrous tax-cutting mini-budget and several policy U-turns.