Jacob Rees-Mogg leads Cabinet resignations as Sunak reshuffle begins
The old ally of Boris Johnson and Liz Truss was the first to acknowledge on Tuesday that he was out
Jacob Rees-Mogg has quit as Business Secretary after conceding he would not get a job in Rishi Sunak’s Cabinet despite recanting his claim the new Prime Minister was a “socialist”.
The old ally of Boris Johnson and Liz Truss was the first to acknowledge on Tuesday that he was out as the newly appointed Conservative leader began a Government shake-up.
A source close to Mr Rees-Mogg said: “He knows he was very close to the previous two regimes and it didn’t seem likely he was going to be appointed in the new Cabinet.
“He’s happy to support the Prime Minister from the backbenches.”
During the last Tory leadership contest, Mr Rees-Mogg described Mr Sunak as the “much-lamented socialist chancellor” who had put up taxes during the coronavirus pandemic.
And he accused Mr Sunak of “disloyalty” to Mr Johnson, with many Conservatives blaming the new leader for bringing down the old one by resigning as chancellor.
But on Tuesday Mr Rees-Mogg backed down and told The Telegraph he would now serve in Mr Sunak’s Government if asked.
Asked about the “socialist” charge, the MP replied: “That was said in the run-up to the leadership campaign, under very different circumstances.
“The leader of the Conservative Party is clearly not a socialist.”
Mr Sunak pledged to “build a government that represents the very best traditions of my party” as he seeks to unite the warring factions.
Brandon Lewis resigned as justice secretary as Mr Sunak was holding meetings in his new office in the House of Commons.
“Our party is at a crossroads,” Mr Lewis said in his resignation letter to the Prime Minister.
“We now have an opportunity to reunite and rebuild and we must take it. We must come together and deliver the mandate we were given by the British people.
“We have a duty to the country to do so, at a time of economic hardship for so many. It is no exaggeration to say that the future of the Conservative Party and everything we stand for is at stake if we do not.
“You will have my support from the backbenches in addressing the economic crisis we face, bringing our party together and delivering on the promises we put forward in the 2019 manifesto, on which we won such an overwhelming majority.”
While Chloe Smith, who backed Mr Sunak in the Tory leadership contest, said she is out as work and pensions secretary.
In a tweet, Ms Smith said: “It has been a privilege to serve as the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and I would like to thank all of the brilliant staff at @DWP for their dedication to helping people into work and protecting the most vulnerable.
“I look forward to supporting @RishiSunak from the backbenches & continuing to work hard for my constituents in Norwich North.”
Kit Malthouse is also out as education secretary, a source close to the MP has said, while Robert Buckland said he is leaving as Welsh secretary at his request.
Jake Berry has also said he has left his position as Conservative Party chairman.
Announcing his departure from the role of Conservative Party chairman, Mr Berry tweeted: “It has been an honour to serve as the Conservative Party chairman, but all good things must come to an end.
“I relish the opportunity to serve our great party and my constituents from the backbenches once again.”
Simon Clarke said it “has been a great privilege” to serve as levelling-up minister as he departed the role.