23 May 2023

Braverman questions continue as Sunak mulls over potential investigation

23 May 2023

Pressure continues to mount on Rishi Sunak to order an inquiry into whether Suella Braverman breached the ministerial code.

Labour will use an urgent question from deputy leader Angela Rayner in the Commons to raise the issue.

Mrs Braverman smiled as she arrived in Downing Street for a Cabinet meeting chaired by the Prime Minister on Tuesday.

Mr Sunak is reportedly looking at emails in which officials raised concerns about the Cabinet minister’s request for help last autumn to arrange a private speed awareness course for her.

The Home Secretary has been accused of breaching the ministerial code by asking taxpayer-funded civil servants to assist with a private matter.

Mrs Braverman insists she did “nothing untoward”. She admitted speeding, paid a fine and took penalty points on her driving licence.

But she did not deny asking officials for help in trying to arrange a one-to-one speed awareness course rather than joining fellow motorists on the programme, which allows people with minor offences to avoid getting points on their licences.

Officials were so concerned by her alleged request they emailed the Cabinet Office’s propriety and ethics team, who told them to disregard it, The Times reported.

Mrs Braverman instructed them to organise the course, rather than simply soliciting advice, the newspaper suggested.

The most senior civil servant in the Home Office was told about the claims, The Guardian reported.

A senior official relayed Mrs Braverman’s request to Matthew Rycroft, the department’s permanent secretary, due to concerns about whether it was appropriate, the paper was told by sources.

Mr Sunak spoke to his independent adviser on ministers’ interests, Sir Laurie Magnus, and the Home Secretary on Monday as he considered his response.

Sir Laurie cannot begin an investigation into a minister’s conduct without the authorisation of the Prime Minister.

Downing Street said Mr Sunak still has confidence in Mrs Braverman but pointedly refused to back her assertions she has done nothing wrong.

Mr Sunak told MPs he “asked for further information” and will “update on the appropriate course of action in due course”.

The speeding offence took place when Mrs Braverman was attorney general.

Her allies say she is the victim of a smear campaign.

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