Rishi Sunak faces mounting pressure to reshuffle his cabinet after last week’s bruising by-election defeats
- PM blamed last week’s ‘disappointing’ results on what he called ‘local factors’
Rishi Sunak is under pressure to reshuffle his top team in the wake of last week’s bruising by-election defeats.
The Prime Minister attempted to shrug off the heavy losses in Mid Bedfordshire and Tamworth, saying the ‘disappointing’ results were the result of normal mid-term blues and ‘local factors’.
But senior figures are urging him to bring forward a planned reshuffle to inject more vigour into his team.
One minister told the Mail it was time to ‘clear out the dead wood’, adding: ‘The PM is right to try to grab the change agenda – it is our only hope. The changes on things like net zero and HS2 have been popular.
‘The danger now is that people around him look at these results and lose their nerve. In fact, he needs to keep making changes, including with personnel. If we are going to stand for change then we have to look and sound different too and that does mean clearing out some of the dead wood.’
Rishi Sunak is under pressure to reshuffle his top team in the wake of last week’s bruising by-election defeats
Environment Secretary Therese Coffey, Scottish Secretary Alister Jack and Transport Secretary Mark Harper are among those tipped for the sack in a reshuffle
A Downing Street source yesterday said the PM was not planning a reshuffle ‘this week’.
But one insider said officials were already preparing ‘welcome packs’ to brief reshuffled ministers on their new responsibilities.
Environment Secretary Therese Coffey, Scottish Secretary Alister Jack and Transport Secretary Mark Harper are among those tipped for the sack in a reshuffle which government sources had previously indicated would not come until the end of the year.
Some reports have suggested that even Home Secretary Suella Braverman could be moved. And some Tories are pushing for the removal of party chairman Greg Hands after last week’s defeats.
Jeremy Hunt yesterday denied a report that he is planning to quit Parliament at the next election.
Immigration minister Robert Jenrick yesterday acknowledged that ministers were ‘disappointed’ with the by-election results, but insisted that the PM was making ‘good progress’ on delivering on the public’s priorities. Asked if he was in denial he told the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg show: ‘We all have to listen to what the voters are saying in those by-elections, but we also shouldn’t read too much into them.’
Meanwhile, Tory MPs warned that the Reform party risks clearing a path to Downing Street for Labour at next year’s election.
In both by-elections, the Eurosceptic party, which is focused on slashing taxes and immigration, achieved a vote higher than the Labour majority. Party leader Richard Tice has pledged to run a candidate in every seat.
Tory vice chairman Lee Anderson told the Sun on Sunday: ‘Reform UK and their leader Richard Tice are basically working for a Labour government.’
Celebrating the results, Mr Tice said at the weekend: ‘We’re delighted with ensuring that we have stopped the Tories from winning either of those two by-elections.’ He added last night: ‘You cannot reward failure with more incumbency.’
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