Braverman says she handled the breach “transparently.”
UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman has insisted she addressed concerns about a possible security breach involving the emailing of official government documents “transparently and comprehensively”.
During heated exchanges in the House of Commons, opposition Home Secretary Yvette Cooper questioned how the public could trust her when she allegedly ignored legal advice about her duty to house migrants and broke ministerial rules on handling official documents.
Braverman hit back, accusing her opponents of “playing political parlor games” in an attempt to get rid of her.
In a lengthy statement to MPs earlier, she said she sent official documents from her government email address to her personal account on six occasions, insisting there was “no risk to national security”.
A Home Office review identified the incidents after she was forced to resign for breaching the Ministerial Act by sending a draft government statement to an ally from her personal account.
Six days after she was forced out by Liz Truss, she was reappointed by Rishi Sunak when he became Prime Minister.
In the Commons, Cooper said it appeared Braverman breached the Ministerial Act – which requires ministers to uphold the law – three times in one day, including one occasion when she ignored legal advice.
“Every day since her re-appointment, there have been more stories about possible security breaches or breaches of cabinet ministers,” Cooper said.
“How can anyone have confidence in her given the Home Secretary’s serious responsibility for safety standards and public safety?”
In her statement to the Commons Home Affairs Committee, Braverman denied ignoring legal advice and said she had handled “transparently and comprehensively” her “error of judgment” in relation to her use of email.
She accused her opponents of trying to get rid of her because she is serious about dealing with the “vexation” of illegal immigration.
“The system is broken,” she said. “Illegal migration is out of control and too many people are interested in playing political parlor games, covering up the truth rather than solving the problem.
“I know I speak for the decent, law-abiding, patriotic majority of British people from all backgrounds who want safe and secure borders.”
Sunak under pressure over COP27 snub
Meanwhile, Sunak is considering reversing his decision not to attend the UN climate conference in Egypt next week, with Environment Secretary Mark Spencer saying Sunak would go “if his diary allows”.
While Sunak is focusing on domestic issues, including preparations for the Nov. 17 fall statement, he also faces political challenges, including the backlash over Braverman’s reappointment.
Government climate tsar Alok Sharma said he was “disappointed” at the decision not to attend the COP27 summit, while Tory former chancellor George Osborne asked why Sunak would “discard” the party’s record on the environment.
With US President Joe Biden expected to attend, and reports suggesting Sunak’s arch-rival Boris Johnson may go to the summit, the Prime Minister is considering whether to go.
Spencer said the possibility of Johnson leaving was not a “consideration” for the Prime Minister.
“I actually think he’ll look at how much he’s got in his inbox,” he told LBC.
“But I think the fact that Boris is thinking about leaving is a demonstration of how seriously the Conservative Party and the Conservative Government take these things.”
Spencer told Sky News he wants to see the Prime Minister go to COP27 “if he has time”, but “he will make the call and I’m sure it will be the right one”.
Truss phone hacking concern
In another information security matter, the Mail on Sunday revealed that Truss’s personal mobile phone was hacked by Russian agents while she was Foreign Secretary.
Spencer said Truss was “clearly hacked”, but suggested all ministers were using personal phones even if it was “a little man in China” listening.
“We’re all talking on personal phones, right? I’m calling my wife, maybe there’s a little man in China listening in on the conversations between me and my wife.
“But you know, you just have to be careful about what information you use on what phone, and you get a lot of help and support from the security services about that.”
Meanwhile, Labor will seek to question Braverman about her conduct and national security issues in the Commons, while the Home Secretary is also under scrutiny over conditions at Manston’s migrant processing center in Kent.
Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said full details of the breach of the Ministerial Act that led to Braverman’s initial resignation had to be disclosed to MPs.
She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “There is an immediate question, which is how many other security breaches have there been? How many other security breaches has she been involved in? And that is the most important question.”
Another matter dating to Mrs Truss’s chaotic seven-week tenure could also return to cause trouble in Tory ranks, with Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle expected to receive a report on the stormy scenes in Parliament the night before her departure.
Tory MPs were reportedly manhandled in the voting lobbies when Truss’s administration forced them to oppose a Labor proposal on fracking, events which contributed to the collapse in support for the prime minister.