Rwanda, boat crossings and policing: A look at James Cleverly's in tray as home secretary

Many have laid the blame for the weekend's violence with the now former Home Secretary Suella Braverman.

ITV News UK Editor Paul Brand analyses how her successor will approach upcoming marches

James Cleverly is inheriting a raft of major challenges as Suella Braverman's successor as home secretary, including an imminent ruling on the lawfulness of the government's plan to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda.

Rishi Sunak's decision to shuffle the former foreign secretary between two of the Great Offices of State comes at a delicate time for home affairs.

Ministers will this week face judgment on the policy central to their immigration proposals, while protests continue to occupy Home Office attention over the unfolding Israel-Gaza crisis.

Here's a look at the immediate issues for Mr Cleverly to address in his in-tray as home secretary.

Suella Braverman was sacked as home secretary by Rishi Sunak. Credit: PA

Migrant crossings and asylum

One of Mr Sunak's five key leadership priorities is reducing the number of small boats arriving via the English Channel, with the government's flagship Illegal Migration Bill having passed earlier this year.

But the crossings have far from stopped completely, with more than 26,600 journeys being made since the start of 2023 - meaning Mr Cleverly is likely to be judged on his handling of the issue.

Mr Cleverly's choice of language on the matter of immigration will be politically important, as a defining feature of the tenure of Ms Braverman - a standard bearer of the Tory right - was the controversial rhetoric she used.

Tackling the backlog in asylum claims will also be key to cutting the cost of housing migrants in hotels, on which millions of pounds are spent every day.

The Home Office has announced that some 50 hotels will be "exited" by January, so Mr Cleverly could be judged on the execution of this plan.

Introducing alternative accommodation - such as the Bibby Stockholm barge and disused military bases - for asylum seekers has been another government priority.

The plans face challenges on a number of fronts, with two district councils in Braintree and West Lindsey calling on the High Court to quash proposals to move migrants to RAF Wethersfield and RAF Scampton.

(PA Graphics) Credit: PA Graphics


The Supreme Court will on Wednesday hand down a ruling on whether the government's plan to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda is lawful.

Mr Cleverly will play a central role in how the government responds to the high-stakes judgment, and will face challenges either way.

If the court gives the green light to the scheme, he will be responsible for enacting a policy that critics claim is unworkable, with the number of migrant crossings this year in the tens of thousands.

Were the government to lose the case, Mr Cleverly would need to manage the fallout and preside along with Mr Sunak over next steps.


Ms Braverman's departure from Cabinet came after she was accused of stoking tensions with a widely criticised article, in which she suggested police play favourites with pro-Palestinian protesters.

All eyes will be on Mr Cleverly's approach to law enforcement in his new role, amid several reports that the prime minister is looking to tighten laws to make it easier to ban marches.

The development comes after demonstrations in cities across the country and far-right clashes near the Cenotaph on Armistice Day.

The government will discover this week if its plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda is lawful. Credit: PA


The prime minister made law and order central to the legislative agenda announced in the King's Speech earlier this month, in what some saw as a pre-election gambit to appeal to voters on "bread and butter" Conservative issues and draw dividing lines with Labour on criminal justice.

Included within the package were previously announced proposals for killers convicted of the most horrific murders to expect whole life orders.

Under the legislation, police would also have the power to enter a property without a warrant to seize stolen goods, when they have reasonable proof that a specific stolen item is inside.

A Victims and Prisoners Bill, meanwhile, will give ministers the power to block parole for the worst offenders and ban them from marrying in prison.

Mr Cleverly will play a key role in promoting these policies as they make their way through Parliament.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...