Rishi Sunak is gathering his new-look Cabinet today as allies hail ‘grabbing the initiative’ in the reshuffle.
He will see many familiar faces there, with half-a-dozen ministers having served in his governments – and three of those present having worked for him when he was Tory leader.
They also pointed to the face only around a dozen MPs were at a meeting in Parliament to plot a response to the axing.
However, Mr Sunak has been hit with his first no-confidence letter, as former minister Andrea Jenkyns went public to say she has written to the chair of the 1922 committee.
And Westminster wags have been swiping that the return for Lord Cameron is ‘like United bringing back Ronaldo’. ‘A failing team reaches desperately for a former hero to rescue them — and there’s a fair chance it ends with Cameron heading to Saudi on a truckload of cash,’ one told Politico.
The grim backdrop to the positive mood was underlined with a Savanta poll this morning showing Labour 18 points ahead, enough for a huge majority at an election that is expected to happen in the next year.
One Sunak ally told MailOnline: ‘I feel like we’ve grabbed the initiative today in a way we haven’t in ages.’
They acknowledged that there was a difficult year ahead, but insisted ‘Rish is a fighter’. ‘He wants to do this.’
A senior Tory MP – not usually shy of criticising the leadership – was also dismissive of the prospect of an attempt to oust Mr Sunak before the general election. ‘They won’t switch horses now,’ they said.
In a major gamble to revive his electoral fortunes, Mr Sunak gave his predecessor a peerage to bring him back from the political wilderness and promoted loyalists to the top team.
Lord Cameron will be back around the Cabinet table for the first time since he stood down as prime minister and quit as an MP after losing the Brexit referendum in 2016.
He admitted such a return is ‘not usual’ but said he wants to support Mr Sunak through a ‘difficult job at a hard time’.
Around the table are at least six who were either members or attended his Cabinets – Michael Gove, Jeremy Hunt, Mark Harper, Grant Shapps, Andrew Mitchell and Esther McVey.
Deputy PM Oliver Dowden was Lord Cameron’s chief of staff, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Laura Trott was one of his advisers, and Tory chairman Ric Holden was deputy head of the Conservative press office when he was leader.
The reshuffle – launched after Mr Sunak sacked Mrs Braverman as home secretary – risked pouring petrol on the raging tensions in Conservative Party.
Dame Andrea submitted a furious letter of no confidence in Mr Sunak to the Tory backbench 1922 Committee as a result of the decision.
Deputy Tory chairman Lee Anderson was among hardline MPs at a Commons meeting where concerns were shared about Mrs Braverman’s ousting after she accused the police of bias – although it is thought he could have been monitoring the discussions for the leadership.
Tensions could be further ramped up on Wednesday, when the Supreme Court hands down its judgment on the Rwanda asylum policy central to Mr Sunak’s promise to ‘stop the boats’ crossing the Channel.
Mrs Braverman, who warned she will have ‘more to say in due course’, could add to pressure by championing leaving the European Court of Human Rights if the Government loses the appeal.
In a foreign policy speech to the Lord Mayor’s Banquet in London’s Guildhall, Mr Sunak vowed to stand up for tolerance and free speech as ‘conflicts overseas create division at home’.
James Cleverly was appointed Home Secretary as he was moved from the Foreign Office to make way for Lord Cameron, while promotions included Victoria Atkins to Health Secretary and Laura Trott to Treasury Chief Secretary.
In what looks to be a sop to the Tory right, GB News presenter and former work and pensions secretary Ms McVey was brought back into Cabinet with the unusual brief of being ‘minister for common sense’.
In another sign Mr Sunak is looking ahead to the election, Mr Holden replaced Greg Hands as Conservative Party chairman following a string of by-election losses and a mauling in council contests during his nine months in charge.
Mr Sunak continued reshuffling the junior ranks last night and is expected to make a few more alterations later.
Conservative former Cabinet minister Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg said the reshuffle would not help win the Tories the next election, suggesting it will benefit the Reform party founded by Nigel Farage.
The MP told BBC Newsnight: ‘The Champagne will be flowing in the Reform party headquarters tonight after what’s been done today.’