Most Read from Bloomberg
UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman committed “multiple” breaches of ministerial rules, the Conservative Party’s former chairman said, appearing to question Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s decision to re-appoint her just days after she was sacked by his predecessor.
Braverman was removed from post last week by then Prime Minister Liz Truss over what the minister herself called a “technical infringement” of regulations, by sending private government documents to a Conservative backbencher from a personal email account. But Jake Berry -- who was party chairman at the time -- suggested there were further questions about her conduct.
“From my own knowledge, there were multiple breaches of the ministerial code,” Berry told TalkTV late on Wednesday. The offending email “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 cyber security, as I believe.”
A spokesman for Braverman did not immediately return a request for comment.
— Bloomberg UK (@BloombergUK) October 26, 2022
The remarks by Berry -- who himself was sacked by Sunak -- pile further pressure on the premier over the controversial appointment. The row is the first major political challenge for the Sunak administration, as it seeks to avoid being forced into losing a senior minister in its first week.
On Wednesday, opposition Labour Party Leader used the matter as his first line of attack in the first session of Prime Minister’s Questions between the two men in the House of Commons.
Braverman’s return to cabinet came after the pair struck a deal that saw her endorse him in the Tory leadership contest, according to people familiar with the discussions.
While Berry said “it’s for the new prime minister and he must be free to appoint whoever he wants,” he also suggested that the country’s top civil servant, Simon Case, is unlikely to have welcomed Braverman’s reappointment.
“The Cabinet Secretary had his say at the time, I doubt he’s changed his mind in the last six days,” Berry said.
On Thursday, Labour’s shadow foreign secretary, David Lammy, urged Sunak in a Times Radio interview to publish what advice he’d received from Case over the appointment.
Berry also suggested that Braverman had not come clean about her error herself, and instead was confronted with evidence by officials. “As I understand it, the evidence was put to her and she accepted the evidence, rather than the other way round,” Berry said.
Defending Braverman on Sky News on Thursday morning, Nadhim Zahawi, the new Tory chairman, argued: “People are allowed a second chance and the Prime Minister did the right thing to give Suella that second chance.” He added: “I believe in redemption.”
Asked on Times Radio whether Sunak was misled about whether Braverman had owned up to the breach or been caught out, Zahawi said: “The prime minister would have looked at what happened under the previous prime minister and considered that very carefully and would have made that decision.”
Most Read from Bloomberg Businessweek
©2022 Bloomberg L.P.