Rishi Sunak is facing a crunch vote on the release of documents related to his controversial decision to appoint Suella Braverman as home secretary, as the prime minister comes under growing pressure.
Question is: how comfortable are the security agencies going to be in sharing secrets with her?
[And now we learn of Liz Truss’ mobile phone being hacked]
Adam Forrest www.independent.co.uk
Labour has vowed to table a “humble address” that could force the government to share the security and risk assessments regarding Ms Braverman’s admitted security lapse.
Sir Keir Starmer’s party has demanded that Mr Sunak clarifies what he knew about Ms Braverman sharing documents from her own email account, and whether she may have leaked market-sensitive data.
Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, said the prime minister and home secretary “cannot keep running away from these questions”, stating: “Our country’s security is too important for this Tory chaos.”
She added: “Labour will use every parliamentary mechanism open to force the government to come clean over [Ms Braverman’s] reappointment, to get answers, and to require detailed documents to be released to the intelligence and security committee.”
The humble address motion, set to be put forward on the next opposition day, would be binding, meaning that if Labour can win support from enough Tory rebels, the Sunak government will be forced to reveal the relevant documents.
Tory MPs have questioned the new prime minister’s judgement in handing Ms Braverman a key role as he attempted to shore up support for his leadership bid from the right of the party.
Veteran Tory MP Roger Gale told The Independent: “He did not do himself any favours, and it’s a shame he reappointed Suella Braverman. It took the shine off [a reshuffle] that everybody felt, ‘Yeah I can live with that.’”
Ms Braverman was reappointed only six days after she was fired by Mr Sunak’s predecessor Liz Truss for breaching ministerial rules by sending a sensitive government document from her personal email.
Several officials have disputed Ms Braverman’s claim to have reported her mistake to the cabinet secretary Simon Case as soon as she realised – with sources telling the BBC on Saturday that she had initially been “in denial” about the breach.
Ms Braverman is understood to have sent sensitive documents to her ally Tory MP John Hayes, but accidentally also copied in another MP who informed the party’s chief whip before the details were passed on to Mr Case.
According to The Sun, Ms Braverman leaked details about a “growth visa” planned by Ms Truss. Opposition parties have called on Mr Sunak to clarify whether Ms Braverman leaked market-sensitive data, since any details regarding growth plans could affect Office for Budget Responsibility forecasts.
Mr Sunak has resisted Labour and Lib Dem demands to launch a Cabinet Office inquiry into Ms Braverman’s breach of the ministerial code. Conservative MP Caroline Nokes has backed opposition calls for an investigation, and former Tory chair Sir Jake Berry described the breach as “really serious”.
Labour MP Chris Bryant told LBC that Tory ministers had said Ms Braverman would “have to go” because “they believe she is a threat to national security”. One Tory MP told the i: “I am afraid I agree with Keir Starmer, that this is a grubby deal.”
Removal vans were seen taking Mr Sunak’s belongings into Downing Street on Saturday, as the new PM and his family moved back into the same flat above No 10 that they used to occupy when he was chancellor.
As he struggles to draw a line under the row, Mr Sunak has hired ITV News chief Amber de Botton as his new director of communications. Unlike a civil servant, Ms De Botton – who has also worked at Sky News – will be able to give political advice to ministers.
Meanwhile, Sir Keir said on Saturday that it was not “a real laugh to crash the economy” as he argued that the country does not need a “comedian” as prime minister.
He was asked about countering his image as a “dull” politician in an interview with Mumsnet founder Justine Roberts, and said he found “the whole discussion pretty tedious to be honest”.
Sir Keir said: “We actually had a comedian with Boris Johnson, and it really didn’t go very well. And then we had Liz Truss. I don’t think it was a real laugh to crash the economy with that kamikaze budget.”
Peter Brookes – The Times