Right-wing MPs reacted with fury following the shake-up, which they believe marks a shift to the political centre ground.
Former minister Andrea Jenkyns, a former education minister, revealed she had submitted a letter of no confidence in Sunak as she declared: “Enough if enough.”
She said: “If it wasn’t bad enough that we have a party leader that the party members rejected, the polls demonstrate that the public reject him, and I am in full agreement. It is time for Rishi Sunak to go.”
Her letter, which she posted on X (formerly Twitter) prompted a slapdown from Tory MP Tim Loughton.
Referring to the damehood Jenkyn received in Boris Johnson’s resignation honours list, he said: “Where can we submit a letter of no confidence in the Pantomime Dame?”
Another right-wing former minister, Jacob Rees-Mogg, condemned Sunak’s decision to fire Braverman as home secretary over the phone rather than face-to-face.
He told the BBC: “I think manners in politics matter. And if you’re going to tell somebody that job is getting you ought to have the gumption to see them face to face and say you’ve got to go and this is why.”
Sunak’s frontbench shake-up, particularly his decision to bring back former PM David Cameron as foreign secretary, is being seen as a last throw of the dice as the Tories continue to trail well behind Labour in the polls with the next election just months away.
Some have pointed out that the move flies in the face of Sunak’s claim at last month’s Tory Party conference that he will be the candidate of change when the country goes to the polls.
One former minister told HuffPost UK: “Sunak has trashed his reputation, not least with the ‘candidate of change’ crap and his handling of Suella, so there’s definitely no way back for him now.”