Why Suella Braverman’s re-appointment as Home Secretary is so controversial

A look at the allegations that led to her sacking six days before Rishi Sunak resurrected her as Home Secretary.

Sam Blewett
Thursday 27 October 2022 10:49 BST
Suella Braverman is at the centre of the first controversy for Rishi Sunak’s Government (Carl De Souza/PA)
Suella Braverman is at the centre of the first controversy for Rishi Sunak’s Government (Carl De Souza/PA) (PA Wire)

Rishi Sunak sacked nearly a dozen of Liz Truss’s Cabinet ministers on his first day, but it was Suella Braverman’s resurrection as Home Secretary that caused the most controversy.

Just six days earlier she had been forced out by Liz Truss as the shortest-serving minister in that coveted position over a security breach.

As the new Prime Minister is facing demands to launch an inquiry into her re-appointment, here is a look at the allegations.

– What did Suella Braverman do?

She was caught sending veteran backbench Tory Sir John Hayes, a fellow right-winger, an official document from a personal email account.

Ms Braverman accidentally copied in someone she believed was Sir John’s wife, but was in fact an aide to Conservative MP Andrew Percy, who raised the alarm.

She argued it was merely a draft written ministerial statement on immigration which had been due for publication imminently.

Allies said she sent it after going on a 4am immigration raid before coming clean about her “mistake”.

One told the PA news agency: “She was not expecting at all to be sacked over it.”

But officials said the file was sent much later and that the Cabinet papers had first been forwarded from her ministerial account to a private Gmail account before going elsewhere.

A No 10 source told the Sunday Times: “Concerns had been raised prior to Wednesday that Braverman might have been sharing restricted government documents with people she shouldn’t have.”

– Why is this a problem?

Her actions were deemed to have twice breached the ministerial code, setting out how members of the Government must behave – or face punishment.

In her fiery resignation letter to Ms Truss, Ms Braverman accepted she was guilty of a “technical infringement of the rules”.

The information contained in the document was also argued to have been market sensitive because they could have implications for Office for Budget Responsibility growth forecasts.

The Information Commissioner’s Office has in the past raised concerns about ministers using private email accounts, with the watchdog warning of “real risks to transparency and accountability”.

– How is her reappointment justified?

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said Mr Sunak has accepted her apology for the “mistake”.

And he argued that Mr Sunak wants an “experienced Home Secretary”, despite her having only lasted six weeks in the role under Ms Truss.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said they need a “Cabinet of all the talents” so the public can see a “united Conservative Party”.

But he did not directly answer an interviewer’s question about whether he trusted Ms Braverman, given that the leaked information was said to be market sensitive.

– What do the critics want?

Labour has demanded that Cabinet Secretary Simon Case, who is reportedly “livid” over her swift return and “very concerned” about the breach, launches an investigation “into the extent of this and other possible security breaches”.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper wrote to him: “Given the Prime Minister’s decision to reappoint her to the Cabinet post overseeing national security, it is vital for the public to have transparency on what occurred.”

The Lib Dems also demanded an investigation into Mr Sunak’s decision to reappointed her “including any promises Sunak made to her behind closed doors”, with Ms Braverman having supported him in the Tory leadership contest.

Home affairs spokesman Alistair Carmichael said: “If it is confirmed that Suella Braverman repeatedly broke the ministerial code and threatened national security, she must be sacked.

“A Home Secretary who broke the rules is not fit for a Home Office which keeps the rules.”

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