24 May 2023

Sunak acting ‘fairly’ over Braverman claims, says minister

24 May 2023

A Cabinet minister has urged patience and said that the Prime Minister was acting “fairly”, as Rishi Sunak continues to consider whether or not to order an investigation into Suella Braverman’s conduct.

Labour has accused Mr Sunak of dithering over his response to allegations against the Home Secretary, but Justice Secretary Alex Chalk told broadcasters on Wednesday that high standards in Government included “proper standards of process”.

Downing Street had said on Tuesday that the Prime Minister was still “looking at all the requisite information”, amid claims the Home Secretary asked officials to help arrange a private speed awareness course for her.

Ms Braverman has been accused of breaching the Ministerial Code by asking taxpayer-funded civil servants to assist with a private matter.

The Home Secretary insists she did “nothing untoward”.

She admitted speeding, paid a fine and took penalty points on her driving licence.

But Ms Braverman 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.

Mr Chalk quoted from Charles Dickens’ novel Great Expectations as he sought to defend the approach taken by his close ally Mr Sunak.

“Take nothing on looks, take everything on evidence. There’s no better rule,” he told LBC.

He said that he enjoyed a “professional, collaborative” relationship with the Home Secretary, as he told the programme that the Prime Minister was doing the “right thing”.

“These things have to be taken in stages. The Prime Minister is absolutely on this. He’s considering it fairly. And let’s see where that goes.”

The Justice Secretary was also quoted in the Times newspaper, in the comments that appeared to criticise his party colleague.

“I don’t know all the facts about this specific case, or precisely what was alleged and precisely what took place in that case. In my view, no-one is above the law.”

Mr Chalk quit as Solicitor General in Boris Johnson’s administration last summer, citing concerns about the ability of the Government to uphold “standards of candour”. Those words were put to him during an appearance on GMB.

He told the programme: “I expect high standards, but part of the standards I expect is proper standards of process.

“So I would think it was wrong if a Prime Minister who is charged with considering some of these issues to do so in a way that was hasty, on the basis of emotion, on the basis of instinct, without having looked at the evidence, because that does a profound disservice to the British people.”

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