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Rishi Sunak’s first shadow cupboard assembly ‘mired in chaos’

Rishi Sunak‘s first shadow cabinet meeting was mired in chaos last night after leadership hopeful Kemi Badenoch ‘ripped into’ him over the election.

The new shadow communities secretary said Mr Sunak’s decision not to inform Opposition frontbenchers before calling the July 4 election bordered on ‘unconstitutional’. 

She also said his choice to return early from D-Day commemorations may have cost former Cabinet colleagues their seats.

Ms Badenoch also branded Mr Sunak’s closest parliamentary aide Craig Williams, who placed a bet on the date of last week’s vote, a ‘buffoon’ and suggested Suella Braverman was having a ‘very public’ nervous breakdown.

The ex-Business Secretary, warning that colleagues have not understood the ‘enormity’ of the situation, also said she was speaking for former colleagues who had lost their seat in the landslide defeat.

Rishi Sunak delivers a statement after his general election defeat outside 10 Downing Street on July 5, 2024

Rishi Sunak delivers a statement after his general election defeat outside 10 Downing Street on July 5, 2024

Former Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch said Rishi Sunak's choice to return early from D-Day commemorations may have cost former Cabinet colleagues their seats

Former Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch said Rishi Sunak’s choice to return early from D-Day commemorations may have cost former Cabinet colleagues their seats

It came as Lord Frost urged the Tories to appoint an interim leader to stop the race to replace Rishi Sunak ‘immediately descending into mudslinging’. 

The former cabinet minister, who was the UK’s chief Brexit negotiator, said the party must not be ‘rushed’ in selecting a new leader.

His comments were later echoed by Lord Hague, the former Tory leader, who said it was ‘better to get it right than to end up going around in circles’. 

Lord Frost warned against ‘descending into the mudslinging of a rushed leadership election’, telling a Popular Conservatism event: ‘I can’t see why we shouldn’t have an interim leader and time to debate things properly.’

Speaking to the architects of the election defeat, he said: ‘Those who decided upon the political strategy that got us here, those who stuck to it in the face of clear evidence it was failing and those who then slandered and tried to kneecap their opponents in the party, they need to get off the stage as soon as possible and let the rest of us move on.’ 

Lord Frost speaks during the Popular Conservatism post-election event in London on Tuesday

Lord Frost speaks during the Popular Conservatism post-election event in London on Tuesday

Last night the 1922 Committee of Tory MPs elected Bob Blackman (pictured) as chairman after Sir Graham Brady stood down as an MP

Last night the 1922 Committee of Tory MPs elected Bob Blackman (pictured) as chairman after Sir Graham Brady stood down as an MP

The Tory peer said the Conservative Party is in a ‘moment of calamity’, and must accept the ‘painful reality’ that ‘for the time being nobody out there is that much interested in what we think’.

But he called on activists to ‘hold our nerve about traditional Conservative ideas and values’ and to build the ‘largest possible winning coalition’ ahead of the next election.

‘If we can do this then perhaps there will be no need for Reform,’ he added.

Lord Hague, meanwhile, told a Tony Blair Institute conference yesterday that the party should maintain ‘maximum distance’ from Nigel Farage’s Reform party.

He said it would take ‘a very long time’ for the Tories to recover from their crushing defeat last week, and said the leadership contest should take time.

He also admitted it was a mistake to allow party members to elect the leader. ‘Things have changed since then,’ Lord Hague said.

‘Political parties have become much smaller in base membership. The Conservative party certainly has, so that it becomes very, very unrepresentative, even of the voters of that party. So I would give that back to the members of parliament.’

Last night the 1922 Committee of Tory MPs elected Bob Blackman as chairman after Sir Graham Brady stood down as an MP.

Mr Blackman wrote to MPs earlier this week saying the party ‘must take our time’ with the leadership race.