Why Suella Braverman has been nicknamed 'Leaky Sue'

Britain's Home Secretary Suella Braverman leaves after attending the first cabinet meeting under the new Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak in 10 Downing Street in central London on October 26, 2022. - Sunak's largely same-look cabinet held an inaugural meeting today before he heads to the House of Commons for his first weekly
Home secretary Suella Braverman has been described as 'Leaky Sue'. (Getty)

Rishi Sunak is facing growing pressure over his controversial decision to reappoint Suella Braverman as home secretary.

Braverman was forced out by Liz Truss last week after she was caught sending a Tory backbencher a sensitive document from a personal email account.

But Sunak brought her back into the cabinet fold just six days after she quit.

Since then, there has been growing condemnation of his decision, which culminated in an extraordinary interview by Jake Berry – the Conservative Party chairman under Truss – on Wednesday night in which he alleged “multiple breaches” of the ministerial code by Braverman.

Ministers who break the code are expected to resign from their post, but the code is not law and it is up to the prime minister how to enforce it – if at all.

Conservative MP Suella Braverman arrives for a meeting with Britain's newly appointed Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at 10 Downing Street in central London, on October 25, 2022. - Suella Braverman is appointed Britain's Secretary of State for the Home Department. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP) (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
Suella Braverman was forced to resign from Liz Truss's government last week. (Getty)

Why is Suella Braverman called ‘Leaky Sue’?

Braverman's critics have been quick to jump on the bandwagon, with Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey telling The News Agents podcast it is “how she's known in Whitehall”.

Braverman left her role in Truss’s Cabinet after she was caught sending veteran backbench Tory Sir John Hayes an official document from a personal email account.

She accidentally copied in someone she believed was Hayes’ wife, but was in fact an aide to Conservative MP Andrew Percy, who raised the alarm.

Braverman admitted to a “technical infringement” of the rules in her resignation letter, and argued it was merely a draft written ministerial statement on immigration which had been due for publication imminently.

Watch: Zahawi backs decision to reappoint Suella Braverman

But officials said the file was sent much later and that the cabinet papers had first been forwarded from her ministerial account to a private Gmail account before going elsewhere.

Berry told TalkTV: “It was sent from a private email address to another member of parliament. She then sought to copy in that individual’s wife and accidentally sent it to a staffer in parliament.

“To me that seems a really serious breach, especially when it was documents relating to cybersecurity, as I believe.”

He added: “For a home secretary to even have that nickname after a relatively short time in office says it all.”

Former Tory party chairman Sir Jake Berry accused Suella Braverman of 'multiple breaches' of the ministerial code. (Getty)
Former Tory party chairman Sir Jake Berry accused Suella Braverman of 'multiple breaches' of the ministerial code. (Getty)

Sources have also claimed to the Times that Braverman regularly shared sensitive government information on her personal phone and email and that some had subsequently nicknamed her “Leaky Sue”.

The Mail has also reported that she had been investigated by a unit within the Cabinet Office over a leak about the government’s plan to seek an injunction against the BBC.

The newspaper said no “conclusive evidence” of the identity of the leaker behind a story about plans to bar the identification of a spy accused of terrorising his ex-partner was found.

But it said MI5 played a role in the inquiry after the leak at the time Braverman was attorney general sparked “concern” in the security service.

What has Rishi Sunak said?

The prime minister insisted Braverman’s security breach was a “mistake”, and that he was “delighted” to enlist her to his “united cabinet”, telling MPs at PMQs on Wednesday: “The home secretary made an error of judgement but she recognised that, she raised the matter and she accepted her mistake.

However, a Truss ally told Politico that Braverman did not own up to leaking the information, and accused her of “lying” to Truss after she was “caught out because she cc’d the wrong person”.

Photo by: KGC-254/STAR MAX/IPx 2022 10/25/22 Former Chancellor Rishi Sunak gestures to MPs at Conservative Central Office after becoming the new leader of the Conservative Party on October 24th 2022 in London, England, UK. Liz Truss will formally tender her resignation to King Charles III tomorrow before Sunak becomes the UK's 57th Prime Minister.
Rishi Sunak defended his decision to reappoint Suella Braverman as home secretary. (Getty)

Labour MP Jess Phillips questioned the chain of events in light of the reported contradictions, tweeting: “Did Braverman lie to [Sunak] or did Sunak lie to the Commons?”

Downing Street refused to comment on the accuracy of Sunak’s statement in the Commons that Braverman reported her own mistake of sending an official document from her personal email.

Tory MP Mark Pritchard has also questioned Braverman’s reappointment, tweeting that “MI5 need to have confidence in the home secretary – whoever that might be”.

“Any breakdown in that relationship is bad for the security service and the government. It needs to be sorted asap.”

Why did Sunak reappoint her?

Sunak could have avoided controversy by choosing another MP to be home secretary but it is thought he reappointed Braverman – who supported him in his leadership bid over the weekend – in an attempt to appease the right of the Tory party.

The prime minister is reported to have phoned Braverman six times to secure her backing in an attempt to show he had broad support before Boris Johnson pulled out.

Her reappointment as home secretary could be Sunak rewarding Braverman for her loyalty – or it may have been her price for choosing to back him over Johnson.

Labour leader Keir Starmer speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London. Picture date: Wednesday October 26, 2022.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer accused the prime minister of doing a 'grubby deal' to get Suella Braverman's support. (PA)

Either way, it has opened Sunak up to claims of hypocrisy after he promised his premiership would be characterised by "integrity and accountability".

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has branded it a sign of the weakness of Sunak’s position that he had to do a “grubby deal” with a prominent figure on the Tory right to ensure he gained the leadership this time around.

But the new Conservative Party chairman Nadhim Zahawi – quizzed as to whether 'Leaky Sue was fit for office – said the PM was right to give Braverman a "second chance".