Sir Keir Starmer has accused the new Prime Minister of doing a “grubby deal” to make Suella Braverman home secretary, after she was sacked from the role last week.
Braverman was sacked by Liz Truss for breaching the ministerial code when she sent Home Office documents to a Tory backbencher.
It has been widely speculated that Braverman endorsed Sunak as Tory leader on Sunday over Boris Johnson, after securing a guarantee that she would get her job back.
Starmer said in Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) that Rishi Sunak “was so weak that he’s done a grubby deal trading national security, because he was scared to lose another leadership election”.
“There is a new Tory at the top but as always with them, party first, country second,” Starmer said.
Sunak said that Braverman “made an error of judgment but she recognised that, she raised the matter, and she accepted her mistake”.
The Prime Minister refused to say whether officials had raised concerns about Braverman’s appointment.
It has been reported by some outlets that concerns were raised in the civil service about giving Braverman security clearance, after last week’s events.
Cabinet secretary Simon Case was said to be “livid” with the appointment – something denied by Number 10.
A Number 10 spokesperson said: “I don’t recognise reports to that end that have been published this morning.
“I don’t as standard get into discussing the advice that ministers nor prime ministers receive from their officials, that would not be proper, but certainly I don’t recognise reports as regards the cabinet secretary.”
The Prime Minister appointed a Cabinet that is finely balanced between the Tory party’s warring factions, with Boris Johnson and Liz Truss allies brought into senior positions.
This included James Cleverly and Ben Wallace being reappointed as foreign and defence secretary respectively, while Nadhim Zahawi was made Conservative party chair.
He also kept Truss’ close friend and ex-deputy Prime Minister Therese Coffey in the Cabinet as environment secretary.