London: British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak addressed a weekly meeting on Tuesday with a pledge to “drive change” with his new look Cabinet, a day after sacking Home Secretary Suella Braverman and parachuting in former prime minister David Cameron as the new Foreign Secretary.
In his opening remarks, Sunak said to his Cabinet that they all should build a better future for the citizens of the country.
"Our purpose is nothing less than to make the long-term decisions that are going to change our country for the better. I know that this strong and united team is going to deliver that change for everybody,” said Sunak in his opening remarks to the new Cabinet, which sees former foreign secretary James Cleverly shifted to the role of Home Secretary.
“I am confident that we can demonstrate to the country that we're making progress on the priorities that I set out at the beginning of the year. But you all know that is not the limit of our ambitions. We want to build a better future for our children and for our grandchildren, and that is what this team is going to do. So, let's get to work," he said at the meeting held at 10 Downing Street in London.
It comes after a day of political frenzy at the very top of the UK government, with Sunak shaking things up by getting rid of a controversy courting Indian-origin home minister as he prepares for a general election year coming up in 2024.
Cameron was speedily made a peer in the House of Lords to be eligible for the government post having quit frontline politics in the wake of the June 2016 Brexit referendum.
Lord Cameron hit the ground running with a meeting with his Indian counterpart, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, at his new Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) in London.
“It was extremely satisfying to hear from him about the commitment and support for the relationship. We spent a lot of time talking about cultivating both,” Jaishankar said of his meeting with Cameron in an address to the Indian diaspora in London soon after on Monday.
The two ministers discussed a wide range of topics, including global conflicts and the importance of the Indo-Pacific region.
A conversation with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to discuss the Israel-Hamas conflict was the other main agenda for Cameron’s first day back in government.
"They discussed the conflict in the Middle East, Israel's right to self-defence and the need for humanitarian pauses to allow the safe passage of aid into Gaza," FCDO said in a statement, adding that the ministers "reiterated the strength and depth of the relationship between the UK and the US".
In a customary annual address at the Lord Mayor’s banquet on Monday night, Sunak stated that he was “pleased to have appointed a new Foreign Secretary”, who will build on everything achieved in the last year.
The voices of dissent within the governing Conservative Party are playing out in the background with at least one backbencher, Dame Andrea Jenkyns, having submitted a letter of no confidence in Sunak over the sacking of Braverman.
The cut-off to trigger a leadership challenge is 53 and analysts believe the opposition within the Tory ranks is not anywhere close to that number as yet.
However, Sunak does have a tricky road ahead as he attempts to rally his new-look ministerial team to give the Tories a fighting chance in the polls expected next year.