Pressure grows on Rishi Sunak over 'huge error' in Braverman reappointment

Opposition parties have raised national security concerns and called for an official investigation

Suella Braverman was reappointed home secretary by Rishi Sunak days after being forced to resign from the role. EPA
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The UK government is under pressure to publish its assessments of Suella Braverman’s security breach, as the backlash grows against her reappointment as home secretary six days after she was forced out.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has resisted demands to launch an inquiry into Ms Braverman breaking the Ministerial Code by sharing a sensitive document with a Conservative backbencher from a personal email without permission.

Ms Braverman's competence is being linked to another security issue — reports that Russia tried to hack Liz Truss's phone when she was foreign secretary — as the opposition said she is not trusted by the country's intelligence community.

Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats have raised national security concerns and called for a Cabinet Office investigation.

Labour will push ministers to share risk assessments of this and other alleged leaks, as well as the information given to Mr Sunak before he reinstalled her at the Home Office, with a “humble address” motion in Parliament.

Ms Braverman has refused to appear before MPs to explain what happened.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper on Sunday said the controversy showed Ms Braverman could not be trusted and should not have been brought back into government so soon after being fired.

“We have to have proper answers about whether or not this was the first security breach from Suella Braverman,” Ms Cooper said.

“We think that the papers and the warnings that were provided by the Cabinet Office and by the Cabinet Secretary to the prime minister should be sent to the Intelligence and Security Committee.

“So far, we've been asking repeatedly whether the home secretary has used her personal phone to send other government documents.

“There's also questions about whether she was investigated for other security leaks, including a case involving security service, and a case involving sensitive legal advice around Northern Ireland.

“Now, this is just irresponsible. You can't have a home secretary who is not trusted by the security service, who is not trusted with important government information.

“And it really shows the huge error of judgment that Rishi Sunak has made in reappointing someone just six days after she broke the ministerial code over security lapses, reappointing her to this immensely serious position.”

'Leaky Sue' or 'first rate' Bravernman

Mr Sunak rehired Ms Braverman last week in the same role that she was forced to leave by Liz Truss while she was prime minister.

Cabinet Minister Michael Gove on Sunday supported his under-fire colleague. “Suella is a first-rate, front-rank politician,” he said.

“I am satisfied, more than satisfied, that in resigning, accepting responsibility, apologising, and then in being assured by the Cabinet Secretary and the prime minister that Suella coming back into office was the right thing, that Suella is now in a position to do the work that she is dedicated to doing.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has demanded the home secretary’s sacking, accusing Mr Sunak of brokering a “grubby deal trading security for support” in the Tory leadership contest, which he won with Ms Braverman’s backing.

But the prime minister has insisted Ms Braverman has “learnt from her mistake” and that he does not regret the appointment despite some Conservative MPs adding their voices to the backlash.

Caroline Nokes backed opposition calls for an inquiry and former Tory chairman Sir Jake Berry described the breach as “really serious”.

Ms Braverman — nicknamed “Leaky Sue” — was reportedly previously investigated by government officials after the leaking of a story involving the security services.

The Daily Mail reported that MI5 played a role in the inquiry after the leak at the time Ms Braverman was attorney general sparked “concern” in the security service.

Updated: October 30, 2022, 12:30 PM