Earlier this year, it was alleged that the current Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, was probed over the leak of a sensitive story that concerned Britain’s security services. Both the MI5 and a unit in the Cabinet Office, the Government Security Group, opened the inquiry into the leak, raising concerns about the sensitivity of the information shared.
It is understood that the leak related to a story which involved the Government’s plan to apply for an injunction against the BBC which would stop them from identifying a spy who was accused of using his position to terrorise his former partner. At the time of the leak, Braverman was Attorney General, the Government’s chief legal advisor. It is best understood that it was she who was seeking the injunction, causing concern for the MI5 over the matter of Britain’s security laying in Braverman’s appointment.
After resigning from Liz Truss’ cabinet over personal e-mail breaches, in which she sent an e-mail from her personal account to individuals outside of government, this places Braverman in a difficult position for Sunak. But, will she be able to rise above the challenge?
Sunak’s Re-Appointment of Braverman
Braverman’s re-appointment to the role of Home Secretary has proven controversial, as it follows six days after being ousted by Liz Truss over her breach of the Ministerial Code.
Simon Case, cabinet secretary and head of the Civil Service, identified that Braverman had breached the Ministerial Code twice in relation to sending a highly-classified e-mail from her personal account. She was understood to have violated Clause 2.14, “Ministers should ensure that they follow the advice about the Security of Government Business”, and Clause 2.3, “The internal process through which a decision has been made, or the level of Committee by which it was taken should not be disclosed.”
Whilst Sunak insists that “The Home Secretary made an error of judgement but she recognised that, she raised the matter and accepted her mistake.” Her re-appointment throws into doubt if she is capable of protecting national security as well as her relationship with MI5 amidst her alleged involvement in the document leaks. This assumption can be supported by MP Jake Berry, who states that Braverman is a ‘serial offender’, suggesting that her re-appointment greatly undermines her individual ministerial responsibility and the greater national interest. This contradicts Sunak’s belief that his government will have “integrity, professionalism and accountability at every level.” Whilst Tory chairman, Nadhim Zahawi, suggests that Braverman should be given a ‘second chance’, it contradicts with others in the Tory party, as well as the opposition. Conversely, Yvette Cooper, Shadow Home Secretary, considered Braverman’s involvement in these “serious allegations” as “highly irresponsible and dangerous”.
For Braverman, this has tarnished her links of trust across government and whilst Downing Street insist that MI5 is confident in her responsibility as Home Secretary, it is undeniable that she will be under great scrutiny due to the lack of trust that the public, and parliament, have in her capabilities. It is clear that the role of Home Secretary is a highly sensitive one, and Braverman’s clear breaches of ministerial responsibility place her in a politically fragile position.
The Challenges That Lie Ahead for Braverman
These document leaks set the foundations for Braverman’s fragile future as her breach of ministerial responsibility will see her attempt to gain trust both with MI5 and the Government in her post as Home Secretary. Braverman’s vulnerability to criticism from within the Tory party will not only leave her in a crucial position but also serves to challenge Sunak’s judgement as Prime Minister. It is evident that this will prove a subject of division in the Tory party, and it is crucial that she gets this ‘second chance’ right as tarnishing her reputation any further will bring great repercussions for Sunak.
As Braverman battles past the issues of immigration, culture and war, she will face greater scrutiny in light of her alleged involvement in MI5 document leaks and her personal e-mail blunder. For Braverman, it is necessary for her re-appointment to be built on the trust that she must seek to recover after her breach of ministerial responsibility. It is clear that this will not only reflect on Braverman’s capabilities but Sunak’s judgement as PM and his trust in the cabinet he created. Sunak’s government follows a fragile period for the Tory party, and any misstep will initiate a party challenge, as seen in the downfall of Liz Truss. It is clear that this not only serves as a second chance for Braverman but also for Sunak in uniting the party once more.
Braverman’s re-appointment as Home Secretary will set out to either damage or better her reputation and it is more important now than ever, that she proves herself reliable in protecting the national security of the UK and the judgement of Rishi Sunak.
Edited and Reviewed by Tanish Bagga.
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