Sunak urged to keep Boris backers like Rees-Mogg as part of ‘government of all the talents’

Kate Devlin
Whitehall Editor
Monday 24 October 2022 18:26 BST
Rishi Sunak becomes UK’s third prime minister this year

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Rishi Sunak is being urged to keep high-profile Boris Johnson supporters like Jacob Rees-Mogg as part of a “government of all the talents” designed to bring an end to Tory bloodletting.

Mr Sunak is expected to enter No 10 tomorrow after the dramatic race for the premiership became, in the end, a coronation.

He was crowned Conservative leader after his final opponent, Commons leader Penny Mordaunt, withdrew admitting she had failed to secure enough nominations from Tory MPs.

On Sunday night former prime minister Boris Johnson also dramatically pulled out of the race.

Mr Sunak’s message to MPs almost immediately after he secured the top job was that the Conservative party has to “unite or die” as they battle the economic crisis.

One former cabinet minister who supported Mr Sunak, and who does not share Mr Rees-Mogg’s politics, said: “He should keep in the cabinet people like Rees-Mogg and other Johnson supporters, to show that he is appointing people from all wings of the party. That he is doing the opposite of what Truss did.”

He added: “Her problem was party management. She could have survived the economy stuff. By reversing all her policies, admittedly, but she could have survived it. But it was the lack of party management that brought her down. Rishi should not make the same mistake”.Another former minister said: “It has to be a big tent approach.”

Earlier another Sunak backer Grant Shapps told BBC Radio 5 Live that Mr Sunak wanted to have a “government of all of the talents”.

“One of the problems with the way that Liz Truss went about this initially was to narrow down purely to her own supporters, or largely to her own supporters,” he added.

Mr Rees-Mogg, who over the weekend campaigned for Mr Johnson to become the next prime minister using the hashtag #Borisorbust, tweeted his support for Mr Sunak after his victory, calling him the “unity candidate”.

Mr Sunak is expected to reshuffle his cabinet after he is officially installed as prime minister later this week.

Foreign secretary James Cleverly, who also backed Mr Johnson’s return, told Sky News that when it came to the cabinet “we have got to have the first XV on the pitch, I know Rishi understands that”.

Former minister George Freeman also said he was “sure he will have a cabinet of all the talents”.

A spokeswoman for Mr Sunak declined to comment on cabinet appointments.

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