Rishi Sunak tonight faced criticism from Labour politicians and one of his own MPs in the North East over his cabinet reshuffle – but appeared to have the backing of most of his party.

The PM changed around his top team as he prepares for a General Election expected next year.

Mr Sunak sacked Suella Braverman after growing calls for her to go as Home Secretary while ex-PM David Cameron made an unexpected return to frontline politics after seven years away to become the new Foreign Secretary with a place in the Lords.

There was also a top job for North West Durham MP Richard Holden who ousted Greg Hands as party chairman.

The Northern Echo: Richard Holden left Downing Street looking happy as Larry the cat as he was appointed Conservative Party chairman.Richard Holden left Downing Street looking happy as Larry the cat as he was appointed Conservative Party chairman. (Image: PA)

Labour MPs in the North East slammed the reshuffle as showing a PM out of ideas as they called for an election now.

Meanwhile senior Tory and Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland MP Sir Simon Clarke, who served in the Cabinet under Boris Johnson and Liz Truss, posted a cryptic reaction to the reshuffle on social media platform X, formerly Twitter.

The MP reposted news about Chelsea footballer Raheem Sterling failing to make Gareth Southgate’s England squad with the comment: “Some controversial choices here from the manager, putting it very mildly.

“Never wise to lack options on the right wing - the squad risks being badly unbalanced.”

His words were taken as criticising the reshuffle with a lack of MPs from the right of the Conservative party taking places around the Cabinet table, especially after Ms Braverman’s sacking.

The Northern Echo: Jacob Young, MP for Redcar.Jacob Young, MP for Redcar. (Image: Picture: JACOB YOUNG)

But fellow Tory MP for Redcar, Jacob Young, welcomed the reshuffle saying it “balances a wealth of experience with renewed, fresh energy” and Darlington MP Peter Gibson said he "warmly welcomes" the return of David Cameron.

To read more politics news from The Northern Echo click here

Mr Young, a levelling-up minister, added: “Rishi Sunak, both during his tenure as Chancellor, and now as Prime Minister, has been a huge champion of the North East so I am particularly pleased to see my fellow North East MP, Richard Holden, be appointed party chairman.

“At a time when the UK faces significant challenges both at home and abroad, this is a Cabinet that strengthens the ability of the Government to get things done in the interest of, and in service to, the people of a United Kingdom.”

Mr Gibson added: "James Cleverly who has visited Darlington multiple times is a welcome appointment at the Home Office, and having our own region's Richard Holden in cabinet is a great appointment."

The Northern Echo: Darlington MP Peter Gibson.Darlington MP Peter Gibson. (Image: SARAH CALDECOTT)

Those claims of a “renewed” team in power were thrown out by opposition MPs who widely slammed Mr Sunak’s choices for his cabinet team, with many saying the comeback of David Cameron showed a party lacking talent or ideas.

The Northern Echo: Durham MP Mary Kelly Foy.Durham MP Mary Kelly Foy.

Durham MP Mary Kelly Foy, also a shadow levelling-up minister, said it marked the latest episode “in the Conservative party’s civil war”, adding: “Suella Braverman has now been sacked twice as Home Secretary - a job which she has proven herself to be utterly incapable of doing in a professional or ethical manner.

“After 13 years the country is in urgent need of change, but that won’t be achieved by recycling failed Tory Prime Ministers.

Recommended reading:

Get more from The Northern Echo with a Premium Plus digital subscription from as little as only £1.50 a week. Click here.

“People in Durham and across this country are experiencing a generational cost of living crisis, an economy that is failing and an NHS flat on its face.

“To fix these crises we don’t need a reshuffle we need a general election and a Labour Government.”

Sunderland MP Jullie Elliott added: “This government reshuffle puts an end to the Prime Minister’s ludicrous claim that he is offering change – bringing back David Cameron, the austerity Prime Minister, shows that not only does Rishi not think any of his current MPs are good enough to serve as Foreign Secretary, but it shows that he is out of ideas, calling on failed past Prime Ministers to try to save his own ailing premiership.”

The Northern Echo: Middlesbrough MP Andy McDonald.Middlesbrough MP Andy McDonald.

And Middlesbrough MP Andy McDonald likened the situation to rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic, saying: "Sunak is trying to pull together strands of the Tory party that have been destroyed under Johnson. He’s wasting his time and our patience."