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Perspectives - Inside British Politics

The Rishuffle

Political Overview

After warning his internal opponents that the Party must ‘unite or die’, the new Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, has inherited an overflowing in-tray. The first, “fixing” the mistakes of his predecessor Liz Truss – whose economic mismanagement spun our country quickly into chaos. The second, distancing himself from the reputational damage of the Johnson premiership – promising "integrity, professionalism and accountability at every level". Third, uniting his parliamentary party – steps he has already taken by appointing a Cabinet that reaches across the breadth of the Conservative Party.

In an attempt to refute any criticisms that he does not have a mandate, during his first speech as Prime Minister, Sunak committed to delivering Boris Johnson’s 2019 manifesto, stating “the mandate my party earned in 2019 is not the sole property of any one individual...I will deliver on its promise.” People, capital and ideas will be pillars of focus, the three priorities the then-Chancellor outlined in his Mais Lecture in February 2022.

Benefactors receiving some of the top jobs in the new Prime Minister’s government include Sunak-supporters, Liz-loyalists and Boris-backers – a sign that Rishi is prepared to reach out an olive branch to all factions of the Party. His top team has a balance of views in the likes of moderate figures (Jeremy Hunt, Grant Shapps and Mel Stride) to the ideological right (Suella Braverman and Kemi Badenoch). Interestingly, the majority of the new Cabinet have been reappointed or selected for a position that they held under Boris Johnson’s government, reaffirming the drive for unity. This means bringing a broad church of colleagues into the tent, listening to their views, and avoiding making decisions that will cause the parliamentary party to turn on him.

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