Rishi Sunak forms a 'comeback Cabinet' as old faces return to Downing Street

James Cleverly and Jeremy Hunt retain jobs but Alok Sharma dropped

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Familiar faces returned to Downing Street on Tuesday as Britain's new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak set about assembling his new Cabinet.

On his first day in office, Mr Sunak restored some of Boris Johnson's Cabinet and kept much of Liz Truss's team in place after promising to unite the warring Conservative Party.

He used his first speech in Downing Street to promise integrity and economic stability after the turbulence of the past few months.

Jeremy Hunt is staying on as chancellor in the new government, while Truss lieutenant James Cleverly was reappointed foreign secretary.

Dominic Raab, a prominent Sunak backer, was restored to the posts of deputy prime minister and justice secretary that he previously held under Mr Johnson.

Suella Braverman returned as home secretary only six days after she was sacked for a security breach, retaking her post from Grant Shapps, who was made business secretary.

Former minister Michael Gove also appeared on the brink of a comeback after he was summoned to Downing Street on Tuesday.

Ben Wallace stayed on as defence secretary under a third prime minister, while Nadhim Zahawi was made a minister without portfolio and party chairman.

Penny Mordaunt, a former leadership candidate who had been tipped for a promotion, was kept in place as leader of the House of Commons.

Among those leaving the government were former business secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg, a loyalist of Ms Truss and Mr Johnson, and former chief whip Wendy Morton.

Alok Sharma, the president of the Cop26 climate summit, was appointed Britain's negotiator for the coming Cop27 but was dropped from the Cabinet.

Ms Morton was replaced as chief whip by Simon Hart, one of several returnees from the Johnson administration.

James Cleverly was re-appointed Foreign Secretary in Rishi Sunak's new Cabinet. Reuters

Mr Sunak himself returns to government for the first time since he quit as chancellor in July, part of the mutiny that brought down Mr Johnson.

Several Johnson-era ministers with experience in running departments have been summoned back as Mr Sunak strives to heal wounds.

Former party chairman Oliver Dowden was made chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, a vaguely defined role that gives him a seat in the Cabinet.

The opposition was quick to notice the revolving door.

“People shifting seats around the Cabinet table is not a refresh, it’s a resurrection,” said Labour MP Gareth Snell.

Mr Sunak assembled his team after King Charles III formally appointed him prime minister at Buckingham Palace.

It was King Charles's first time overseeing the transfer of power after he succeeded his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, on the throne.

After arriving in Downing Street, Mr Sunak said “mistakes were made” during Ms Truss's short-lived tenure and said the work to fix them “begins immediately”.

“I will unite our country, not with words, but with action,” he said.

“I fully appreciate how hard things are. And I understand, too, that I have work to do to restore trust after all that has happened.

“All I can say is that I am not daunted. I know the high office I have accepted and I hope to live up to its demands.”

Mr Sunak is Britain's first Hindu prime minister, the first of Asian descent and, at age 42, the youngest in more than two centuries.

Rishi Sunak's childhood landmarks - in pictures

He won the Conservative leadership on Monday after Mr Johnson called off a comeback bid and Ms Mordaunt pulled out.

As Britain's third leader in two months, he faces an array of challenges including economic strife, high inflation, the war in Ukraine and a fractured ruling party.

The pound climbed on currency markets as traders welcomed Mr Sunak's appointment.

He used his opening speech to draw a line under Mr Johnson's time in office by saying the mandate he won at the general election was “not the sole property of any one individual”.

Ms Truss earlier gave a farewell speech in Downing Street in which she defended the push for growth that brought about her downfall.

Her authority evaporated after her package of more than £40 billion ($46bn) in tax cuts caused turmoil in financial markets that nearly wiped out British pension funds.

But she said: “We simply cannot afford to be a low-growth country where the government takes up an increasing share of our national wealth.”

Updated: October 26, 2022, 2:29 PM