Rishi Sunak to hold imminent Cabinet reshuffle

Rishi Sunak is preparing to announce a small reshuffle of his Cabinet as soon as Tuesday as he attempts to get the right frontbench team to close the polling gap on Labour.

The Prime Minister has been looking for a successor to Nadhim Zahawi as Conservative Party chairman but is also now expected by Whitehall insiders to go further in the shake-up.

Downing Street figures were remaining tight-lipped about the movements on Monday night, but Mr Sunak’s press team offered no denial when approached by The Telegraph.

Interest in going wider than just replacing Mr Zahawi, who stepped down after admitting to paying a tax penalty to HMRC, could explain the week-long delay in naming a successor.

There has been mounting pressure from Labour, trade unions and some Tory MPs for Dominic Raab, the Justice Secretary and Deputy Prime Minister, to step back.

Mr Raab has faced allegations of bullying that are being investigated by an outside lawyer and there have been calls for him to be suspended while inquiries are ongoing.

A source close to Mr Raab said on Monday night there had been no indication that he would be moved. Mr Raab has always denied wrongdoing. Mr Sunak has to date rejected calls for suspension.

Truss speaks out

The developments came as Liz Truss, the former prime minister, continued her public defence of her 49 days in office with her first public interview since leaving No 10.

Speaking to The Spectator magazine, Ms Truss defended her decision to sack Sir Tom Scholar, the Treasury’s permanent secretary, despite complaining of a later lack of warning about the potential impacts of her tax-cutting “mini” Budget.

Mr Sunak vowed to lead a government of “integrity” on the steps of Downing Street when he became prime minister in October but has since lost members of his original Cabinet.

Sir Gavin Williamson stepped down as a minister without portfolio who attended Cabinet in November after accusations of heavy-handed treatment of fellow Tory MPs. He has always defended his conduct.

Mr Zahawi was sacked by Mr Sunak more than a week ago, yet the vacancy his removal created has not been filled – an unusual length of time to keep a Cabinet post empty.

The Tory chairmanship is especially important now because of the looming general election, which is expected to take place in 2024.

The chairman normally plays a central role in making sure the party machinery – including funding, staffing and prospective candidates – is ready for the intensity of a nationwide election campaign.

Multiple Downing Street press figures declined to comment when approached about the reshuffle on Monday night.

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