Liz Truss has been urged against packing her Cabinet with loyalist MPs, as early plans suggest almost none of Rishi Sunak’s backers will receive jobs if she wins.
The leadership frontrunner is expected to announce a series of appointments for her closest allies if she wins the contest on Monday, including Kwasi Kwarteng as chancellor and James Cleverly as foreign secretary.
Suella Braverman, another major backer, has been tipped as the new home secretary, while Jacob Rees-Mogg could be given a job in the Treasury or as business secretary.
MPs have warned Ms Truss against stacking the Cabinet full of supportive MPs on the Right of the party, which they say would create divisions that could destabilise her government and make it more difficult to win a general election.
David Davis, the former Brexit Secretary, said on Sunday that he was “slightly worried” that the Cabinet would entirely favour MPs who supported her during the contest.
Divided party ‘won’t win election’
“There is a real risk the party will feel divided and if that’s the case we won’t win the next election, so it’s going to be really important she pulls people in,” he told Sky News.
“The greatest mistake Boris Johnson made – there were a few – but right back to the beginning … was the fact he basically created a Cabinet of loyalists. It wasn’t a meritocratic Cabinet – it wasn’t the best people.”
After Mr Johnson secured two-thirds of members’ votes in the 2019 contest, on a turnout of 87 per cent, he decided to demote prominent supporters of Jeremy Hunt, his leadership rival, including Penny Mordaunt.
While the composition of Ms Truss’s Cabinet is thought to have been worked out already in a series of meetings at Chevening, her grace-and-favour country home, some MPs believe the final team will depend on what proportion of Tory members voted for her.
One Sunak-supporting Conservative MP told The Telegraph: “If Liz gets anywhere near the share of the vote and turnout that Boris got, then that gives her a much freer hand.
“But if she gets a lower share of a significantly lower turnout, it will be very incumbent on her to show she can bring the entire party together.”
Sunak may be more willing to accept role
Mr Sunak has previously suggested he would not accept a job in Ms Truss’s Cabinet if she offered him one.
But sources close to him suggested on on Sunday night that he may now be more willing to accept a role because Ms Truss had “shifted the dial” on issues they had disagreed on, including “handouts” for families to ease the cost of living crisis.
Other Truss backers expected to receive top jobs include Nadhim Zahawi, Ben Wallace and Brandon Lewis.
Reports have also suggested that Sir Iain Duncan Smith, who has been a key figure in her campaign, will return to the Cabinet for the first time since he resigned in 2016 over his opposition to cuts to disability benefits.
Sir Robert Buckland, the Wales Secretary, may also have been promised a job after he switched sides from Mr Sunak’s campaign during the race.