Tory MPs express concern over reappointment of Suella Braverman as home secretary

The PM's attempt to bring unity to his party is being challenged by allegations about the conduct of the home secretary, Political Correspondent Libby Wiener reports

Conservative MPs have expressed concern over Ms Braverman's reappointment as home secretary by new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak - just six days after she left the post over a security breach.

Mr Sunak brought Ms Braverman back into the Cabinet despite her resignation after she was caught sending a Tory backbencher a sensitive document from a personal email account.

Conservative Party Chairman Nadhim Zahawi said she deserves a “second chance”, after her first stint made her the shortest-serving home secretary in history.

But other Tories raised doubts, with Caroline Nokes backing opposition calls for an inquiry and Mr Zahawi’s predecessor Sir Jake Berry alleging “multiple breaches” of the ministerial code.

'Suella is deserving of a second chance': Tory party chairman Nadhim Zahawi said the prime minister looked at the detail before reappointing the home secretary

Mark Pritchard, who used to sit on Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee, said a “breakdown” in trust between MI5 and Ms Braverman must be “sorted ASAP”.

His comment came after reports Ms Braverman previously faced a leak inquiry involving MI5.

But the prime minister’s official spokesman today insisted MI5 is confident in Ms Braverman.

“The home secretary continues to have strong relationships with all the operational bodies that report into the Home Office and are focused very much on keeping the country safe,” he said.

ITV News Political Correspondent Libby Wiener says the unity we saw on display during PMQs 'evaporated overnight' after Sir Jake Berry's comments

Allies of the minister insisted a suggestion that MI5 will give her lessons on what information she can and cannot share to prevent another breach was “nonsense”.

It comes after reports that the home secretary would be in line for lessons from MI5 on what information she can and cannot share.

Ms Nokes, who chairs the Commons Women and Equalities Committee, said there are “big questions hanging over this whole issue”.

“And to be frank I would like to see them cleared up so that the home secretary can get on with her job,” she told the BBC.

“If that means a full inquiry then I think that’s the right thing to do.”

At Mr Sunak’s combative first Prime Minister’s Questions, Sir Keir attacked the PM’s controversial decision to reappoint Ms Braverman as home secretary just six days after she was forced to resign over the security breach.

The Labour leader said it was a sign of the weakness of his 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.

Elsewhere, Rishi Sunak demoted allies of Liz Truss and rewarded his own supporters as he ploughed on with a ministerial shake-up on Wednesday, drawing on all factions of the embattled Tory party.

On top of the criticism over Ms Braverman's reappointment, the prime minister was already fielding criticism as he tore up his predecessor’s growth plan and delayed the highly-anticipated autumn budget in a packed first full day in the top job.

He also reimposed the fracking ban in England that was controversially scrapped by Ms Truss, and was reviewing key spending commitments, including on increasing state pensions in line with soaring inflation, in a major overhaul of government strategy.

The reshuffle continued with the announcement of several junior appointments on Wednesday evening, with Truss allies and former Cabinet attendees Anne-Marie Trevelyan and Chris Philp accepting new, less prominent government roles.

There were also jobs for Sunak loyalists Alex Chalk, Lucy Frazer and Helen Whately, while former long-serving schools minister Nick Gibb returned to the Department for Education, joined by senior Tory and vocal Truss critic Robert Halfon.

Former transport secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan is now a junior minister in the Foreign Office Credit: Aaron Chown/PA

Mr Sunak brushed off opposition demands for an immediate general election as he pledged to rebuild the public finances in a “fair and compassionate” way and to rectify former prime minister Ms Truss’s “mistakes”.

Downing Street also sought to reassure pensioners as Mr Sunak refuses to commit to the triple-lock ahead of the autumn budget on November 17.

Failing to increase payments in line with inflation at more than 10% in April would deliver real-terms cuts to millions of pensioners.

The prime minister’s official spokesman said: “Decisions will be guided by the values of the government and will be done with compassion.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak held his first Cabinet meeting on Wednesday. Credit: PA

“We do recognise that uncertainty is difficult for pensioners and other groups of people. That’s why the prime minister and the chancellor believe it is right to take the time to work carefully and diligently to come up with proposals that will provide that certainty in the long term.

“Given the very challenging economic circumstances the country and indeed the world faces, it is right that we take that time so that we put in place measures that can last.”

Just last week former PM Liz Truss insisted she was “completely committed” to the manifesto pledge on pensions after facing a backlash when No 10 suggested it may be scrapped.

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