Cabinet minister Michael Gove has rejected calls for the Government to publish documents on Suella Braverman’s security breach, insisting he is “more than satisfied” with her reappointment as Home Secretary.
Mr Gove defended her as a “first-rate, front-rank politician,” as Prime Minister Rishi Sunak faces mounting pressure over his decision to reinstall her in the role just six days after she was forced out.
Labour is demanding the Government publish its assessments of Ms Braverman’s sharing of a sensitive document with a Tory backbencher from a personal email without permission.
But Mr Gove, who made a return to Cabinet this week as Levelling Up Secretary, indicated that will not happen.
“When we publish everything, we also potentially publish information that can compromise the effective operation, not just of government, but of national security itself,” he told the BBC’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg programme.
“I also, critically, want to ensure that what we don’t do is, on the basis of the imperfect information that is in the public domain, rush to judgment in a way that would seem to me to be inappropriate.”
Asked if Ms Braverman is a politician of integrity, Mr Gove said: “Absolutely.
“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.”
Mr Gove said his Cabinet colleague “deserves a second chance”.
Questions have also been raised about the Home Secretary’s account that she immediately reported her mistake, further cast into doubt by the emergence of an email from her personal account in which she asked the recipient of a message sent in error to “ignore and delete”.
Confronted with the email, Mr Gove insisted her request was “standard practice”.
He suggested Ms Braverman is facing opposition because she is “brave” and “making changes”.
“You only take flak if you’re over the target,” the senior Tory said.
The former journalist also appeared to blame the media for the furore around the matter, saying: “It becomes a distraction if people are asking these questions.”
But Labour’s shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper told Sky News’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme: “You can’t have a Home Secretary who is not trusted by the security service, who is not trusted with important government information.”
“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 around a case involving the security service, and around a case involving sensitive legal advice around Northern Ireland.”
Former Conservative chancellor George Osborne said Mr Sunak is calculating that Ms Braverman will “blow up”.
Asked whether the Prime Minister should “expend political capital” in keeping her in her post, he told Channel 4’s The Andrew Neil Show: “I think they probably made a calculation in Downing Street that she’s going to blow up – and that’s fine by them because, you know, she’s no fan of theirs and they’re no fan of hers.”
Ms Braverman – dubbed “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.
The Home Secretary is also under fire over allegations that she ignored advice that migrants were being detained for unlawfully long periods at the Manston asylum processing centre in Kent, claims the Home Office dismissed as “completely baseless”.
The Sunday Times reported that she failed to act on warnings that some asylum seekers held at Manston, which is meant to be a short-term holding facility, for weeks urgently needed to be rehoused.
Mr Gove said the situation at Manston was “deeply concerning”, but rejected claims Ms Braverman ignored or dismissed legal advice.
The Liberal Democrats have called on the Government to publish the advice reportedly ignored by Ms Braverman.
Questions over another security issue are also dogging the Government after an incendiary report that Liz Truss’s phone was hacked by Russian agents.
Mr Gove did not deny the claims, but said the Government takes security issues “incredibly seriously” and has “very robust protocols” in place to protect national security.
Opposition parties have demanded an urgent investigation into the alleged attack, which The Mail On Sunday reported is thought to have resulted in sensitive exchanges with foreign officials on Ukraine falling into the hands of Kremlin spies.