25 October 2022

Controversial Suella Braverman returns as Home Secretary, days after dramatic exit

25 October 2022

Suella Braverman is back as Home Secretary, only days after she dramatically quit Liz Truss’s Government after being accused of breaching the ministerial code.

While the move will likely be welcomed by the Tory right, it was immediately criticised by the opposition, as well as immigrant and refugee campaign groups.

Downing Street on Tuesday confirmed that Ms Braverman, who caused controversy with a string of provocative comments during her previous six-week stint in the role, will return as Home Secretary in Rishi Sunak’s Government.

She threw her support behind Mr Sunak in the contest to replace Liz Truss, in what was widely seen as a significant endorsement by a darling of the Tory right.

Ms Braverman originally left the role last week after she said she had made a “technical infringement” of the rules by sending an official document from a personal email and was now taking responsibility.

Her exit made her the shortest-serving home secretary in modern political history.

The rapid return of Ms Braverman to one of the top roles in Government so recently after a rule breach could raise questions for Mr Sunak.

Earlier, in his first speech as Prime Minister, he told the nation: “This Government will have integrity, professionalism, and accountability at every level.

“Trust is earned and I will earn yours.”

Labour immediately hit out at her reappointment, with shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper accusing the new Prime Minister of “putting party before country”.

“Our national security and public safety are too important for this kind of chaos,” she said.

Ms Braverman also raised eyebrows as Home Secretary when she accused opposition parties of being a “coalition of chaos” during a debate in Parliament on the Public Order Bill.

She told the Commons: “It’s the Guardian-reading, tofu-eating wokerati, dare I say, the anti-growth coalition that we have to thank for the disruption that we are seeing on our roads today.”

At the Conservative Party conference earlier this month, Ms Braverman told a fringe event she would “love to be here claiming victory.

“I would love to be having a front page of The Telegraph with a plane taking off to Rwanda.

“That’s my dream. That’s my obsession”.

She said it will be “amazing” if the first UK flight carrying migrants to the African country takes off by Christmas.

Ahead of the re-shuffle, there had been some speculation about what the appointment of Ms Braverman as Home Secretary would mean for UK-India relations, as the two countries continue in a bid to reach a free trade deal.

Boris Johnson had been aiming to agree a trade deal by Diwali but that deadline, also picked up by Ms Truss, was missed.

Recent comments by Ms Braverman had reportedly sparked anger in New Delhi, after she said she had “reservations” about relaxing immigration controls as part of a trade deal with India, telling The Spectator she had “concerns about having an open borders migration policy with India because I don’t think that’s what people voted for with Brexit”.

She has enjoyed a rapid rise through the party, running in the last leadership race to replace Boris Johnson with a promise of “rapid and large tax cuts” and saying she would suspend net-zero targets to deal with the energy crisis and pull the UK out of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The first person to launch a bid, she was knocked out of the race in the early rounds of MPs’ ballots, after which she rallied around eventual winner Ms Truss.

The 42-year-old, the MP for Fareham in Hampshire since 2015, studied law at the University of Cambridge before gaining a masters at the Sorbonne in Paris.

She also qualified as a lawyer in New York and was called to the bar in Britain in 2005, specialising in public law and judicial review.

As a barrister, she defended the Home Office in immigration cases, the Parole Board in challenges from prisoners and the Ministry of Defence over injuries sustained in battle.

Earlier this year, Ms Braverman came under fire for saying she was considering whether to refer the case of four people cleared of tearing down a statue of slave trader Edward Colston to the Court of Appeal.

She later defended her comments, saying it was “entirely” within her remit to do so, after the acquittal prompted a debate about the criminal justice system because the defendants, dubbed the Colston Four, opted to stand trial in front of a jury and did not deny involvement in the incident.

They claimed the presence of the statue was a hate crime so it was not an offence to remove it.

Ms Braverman is also said to have criticised the civil service for being too “woke”, reportedly lashing out earlier this year at the decision by the Government Legal Department to go on “divisive” diversity training at taxpayers’ expense.

Her appointment immediately prompted criticism from campaigners.

Steve Crawshaw, director of policy and advocacy at Freedom from Torture, said that Ms Braverman’s policies had “amped up the cruelty of this Government’s anti-refugee rhetoric to 11 and it seems unlikely she will show any more humanity during her second stint as Home Secretary”.

“This is an appeasement of the right wing of the party which will only cause problems for Sunak further down the line,” he said.

Zehrah Hasan, from the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, said it was “disappointing” to see Ms Braverman return.

“It’s time we had a Home Secretary who acted with decency and compassion, rather than one who’s obsessed with demonising migrants to score headlines. During Braverman’s short but memorable time in office, she did just that, so its extremely disappointing to see her back in post.”

Mark Davies, the head of communications and advocacy at the Refugee Council, said that Government policies on asylum seekers and refugees are “out of step with public opinion”.

“We sincerely hope ministers in the new Government are prepared to listen and engage on this issue in a way which reflects its importance and its impact on the lives of so many people.”

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