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Sunak at 10 Downing Street yesterday Xinhua News Agency/PA Images
The economy stupid

First full day on the job: Rishi Sunak to face Prime Minister's Questions - and his own Cabinet

The economy, Ukraine and his own party’s internal politics are big ticket items on his agenda.

RISHI SUNAK WILL face his first Commons appearance as Prime Minister today, as he begins the gruelling task of uniting his party and restoring the UK’s economic credibility.

The new Prime Minister will square off against Labour’s Keir Starmer later, fresh from appointing a new Cabinet that he hopes will bring a measure of political stability to the country.

It comes after another momentous day in British politics that saw Sunak cull nearly a dozen of Liz Truss’s top-tier ministers, such as Jacob Rees-Mogg, while reviving the careers of a host of big names, including Suella Braverman, Dominic Raab and Michael Gove.

Prime Minister’s Questions will be the initial test of how unified the party is behind its new leader, after Sunak used his first public address yesterday to brace the country for “difficult decisions” as he criticised much of the legacy left behind by Truss’s brief tenure.

“Some mistakes were made. Not born of ill will or bad intentions – quite the opposite in fact. But mistakes nonetheless,” he said.

I’ve been elected as leader of my party and your Prime Minister in part to fix them – and that work begins immediately.”

Volodymyr Zelensky and Joe Biden were among the first world leaders Sunak spoke to yesterday evening, as he told the Ukrainian president that the UK’s support for the war-torn country would be as “strong as ever under his premiership”.

He also made time to speak with Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford, in a stark contrast with Truss.

It is expected that the first meeting of Sunak’s new-look Cabinet could come as soon as this morning, in what would amount to a gathering of Sunak allies, former Truss backers and figures too from the right-wing of the party.

A No 10 source said that the new Cabinet “brings the talents of the party together” and that it reflects a “unified party”.

Raab, who was among several Sunak loyalists rewarded with key roles, was appointed Deputy Prime Minister and won a return to Justice Secretary.

Mark Harper was handed the role of Transport Secretary, while former Education Secretary Sir Gavin Williamson returned to Government as minister without portfolio in the Cabinet Office.

Opponents and rivals took some spots too, with Penny Mordaunt kept in place as Commons leader while Truss ally Therese Coffey became Environment Secretary.

There was also a return to his old role of Levelling Up Secretary for Michael Gove, while Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Foreign Secretary James Cleverly both kept their jobs.

The most controversial appointment however came in the return of Suella Braverman to Home Secretary, only days after she dramatically quit the Government after being accused of breaching the ministerial code.

Sunak, who earlier promised that his new Government would be one of “integrity”, immediately faced questions about the decision to rehire Braverman as Labour accused the new PM of “putting party before country”.

As the 28 October deadline to restore power sharing looms over Stormont, Chris Heaton-Harris was reappointed as Northern Ireland Secretary. This week, he confirmed that an assembly election will be called if the legal requirement to form a new executive by Friday is not met. 

“It’s not an idle threat – it’s not a threat at all. It’s a fact that the legislation says that I need to do that on 28 October,” he said.

rishi-sunak-becomes-new-pm Chris Heaton-Harris who has been reappointed as Northern Ireland Secretary PA PA

The coming days are also likely to bring details of what policies Sunak might pursue alongside continuing Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, as the pair ponder how to fill the multi-billion pound fiscal black hole inherited from the Truss administration.

The fiscal statement is still scheduled for 31 October, but there is speculation that date could shift.

Tory MP Richard Holden told BBC Newsnight that details would likely emerge over the next week.

“I think there’s a huge amount of different things to look at. We’ve got to look at those as a package,” he said.

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