James Cleverly defends Suella Braverman’s return after security breach


The UK foreign secretary has sought to defend the reappointment of Suella Braverman to the Home Office only days after she was forced to resign over a security breach.

Concerns have been raised about the propriety of bringing back Braverman without her breach of the rules first being examined by an ethics adviser.

But James Cleverly claimed it was justified because Braverman acknowledged what she had done and quit last week.

“Suella made a mistake and she has apologised for that mistake,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. He declined to give an example of something similar that would be acceptable in any other walk of life.

Rishi Sunak, the new prime minister, appointed Braverman as home secretary in his first cabinet this week. That came shortly after she strengthened his leadership bid with the naturally sceptical Conservative right – simultaneously dealing a huge blow to Boris Johnson – by publicly supporting him.

The previous week, Braverman admitted to the then prime minister, Liz Truss, that she had breached ministerial rules by sending an official document deemed “sensitive” from her personal email, and resigned. According to a Sunday Times report, Braverman had not been entirely forthcoming when initially confronted about her actions.

Asked if Braverman had lived up to Sunak’s explicit commitment to govern with “integrity, professionalism and accountability”, Cleverly said: “Yes, by saying that she made the mistake by apologising for that mistake for standing down, she did.”

He claimed Sunak appointed Braverman because he valued her experience as home secretary, which amounts to six weeks and one day.

Cleverley’s comments came as the Liberal Democrats called for a Cabinet Office investigation into her reinstatement. The party’s home affairs spokesperson, Alistair Carmichael, said: “Suella Braverman’s appointment makes a mockery of Rishi Sunak’s claims to be bringing integrity to No 10.

“There must be a full independent inquiry by the Cabinet Office into her appointment, including any promises Sunak made to her behind closed doors. If it is confirmed that Suella Braverman repeatedly broke the ministerial code and threatened national security, she must be sacked.

The former Downing Street chief of staff Gavin Barwell has said he would not have given Braverman the role. Asked if her reappointment undermined Sunak’s claim to be a prime minister of integrity, Barwell told Today: “I can entirely understand why he wanted to include her. She’s clearly the sort of champion of the [rightwing]ERG group of MPs, but I think given the events behind her very recent dismissal, personally I wouldn’t have put her back in quite a senior job.”

On Wednesday, the former chair of the committee on standards in public life questioned the move. Alistair Graham said: “Normally, the prime minister would have consulted a ministerial adviser for advice. A breach of the ministerial code is seen as a serious matter and would make any minister an inappropriate appointment to one of the four most senior positions in government.”

The government is yet to reappoint an independent adviser on ministerial ethics since Christopher Geidt’s resignation in June during the Partygate scandal.

And, repeating one of its common attack lines against Sunak, Labour accused the prime minister of putting the interests of the Conservative party before those of the country.

Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, said: “He has just appointed Suella Braverman to be home secretary again a week after she resigned for breaches of the ministerial code, security lapses, sending sensitive government information through unauthorised personal channels, and following weeks of nonstop public disagreements with other cabinet ministers.”

Source: Guardian