Rishi Sunak told it’s time to shake up his top team
Rishi Sunak is under pressure to hold a reshuffle, with up to eight ministers eager to quit politics.
The PM scrapped plans to revamp his top team earlier this year. Instead there were only a few changes, including making Grant Shapps Defence Secretary and Claire Coutinho Energy Secretary.
But there are calls for a wide-ranging changing of the guard, partly because ministers who plan to stand down as MPs can’t start looking for new jobs while they still have departmental roles.
Examples include health minister Will Quince, 40, who has announced he will quit as Colchester MP. An insider said: “Will isn’t the only one. As many as eight ministers want to leave Parliament, although they haven’t all announced it publicly.
“They are not allowed to look for new jobs while they have a government position. The rules are absolutely right but it means they can’t get on with their lives until there is a reshuffle.”
Tory MPs also believe Mr Sunak needs to refresh his top team as part of his fightback against Labour.
It is believed that up to 13 Conservative MPs are looking to stand in safer seats at the general election, because they fear losing.
One minister, who admitted they might lose their own job in a reshuffle, highlighted Mr Sunak’s speech to the Conservative conference declaring his mission is “to change our country”.
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The minister said: “If we are the change party now then surely we should be changing the party a bit?”
Another said: “We were expecting a reshuffle last week but it didn’t come.”
There is widespread agreement, however, that Chancellor Jeremy Hunt must stay in his job, at least for now.
Unusually, Number 10 sources revealed Mr Hunt will remain in the Treasury at least until next year’s spring Budget statement, although they pointedly failed to confirm what will happen after that.
Tory MPs are urging Mr Sunak to slash inheritance tax and insiders say that the Treasury is looking at options for a “phased” reduction.
Next month’s King’s Speech will set out “dividing lines” between Government and Labour on issues such as crime and benefits. Measures to ensure the worst criminals are jailed for life and ones that force claimants to look for work are expected.
Downing Street sees the speech as a key part of “phase two” of Mr Sunak’s premiership alongside this month’s party conference, at which the Prime Minister made a series of policy announcements.
A Number 10 source said: “Up until the summer the focus was very much on stabilising the country and the economy.” Now, the PM wants to take “tough, long-term decisions to benefit our children and grandchildren”.
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