Bringing back Suella Braverman after rule breach ‘sets dangerous precedent’, say MPs

The prime minister’s decision to reappoint Suella Braverman as home secretary “sets a dangerous precedent” for government standards, according to a group of MPs.

Ms Braverman was fired from the role by former Tory leader Liz Truss after she shared sensitive government information through her personal email – a security breach that also broke the ministerial code.

But six days later, she was reappointed by the new PM Rishi Sunak, leading to a backlash from opposition parties and some Tory MPs.

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The public administration and constitutional affairs committee said Ms Braverman’s rule breaches were worthy of a “significant sanction” and any new prime minister should not be able to just “wipe the slate clean” when appointing their top team.

It has now recommended expanding the so-called business appointment rules – outlining what jobs ex-ministers and officials can have after leaving government – and to make them legally enforceable, saying it would act as a “sufficient deterrent” for improper conduct.

The committee also said it would stop the “revolving door” in and out of government and the private sector – an issue brought to the fore after a number of lobbying scandals at the heart of Whitehall.

Chair of the committee, Tory MP William Wragg, said: “It is incumbent on the government to ensure a robust and effective system for upholding standards in public life is put in place, with proper sanctions for those who break the rules.

“Our inquiry has found that although we have a sophisticated landscape of ethics watchdogs in the UK to safeguard standards in public life, they lack the power to enforce the rules.

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The SNP’s Ian Blackford was among those who questioned the PM on his decision

He added: “The prime minister is rightly the ultimate arbiter of the rules in our system. We urge him to show leadership and give legal status to all the ethics watchdogs.

“This will provide a better deterrent for those who may be tempted to act improperly, and further safeguard the integrity of our public life.”

Recommendations in the report include introducing contracts, giving select committees a greater role in endorsing ethics watchdogs, and making ministers explain their decisions in a public hearing if they take jobs that may be deemed unsuitable.

A cabinet office spokesperson said: “We have been clear that this government will have integrity, professionalism and accountability at every level and we are already taking action to improve the effectiveness of the business appointment rules.

“We will respond to the committee’s recommendations in due course.”

Mr Sunak has repeatedly come under fire for the reappointment of Ms Braverman, with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer accusing him of doing a “grubby deal” to secure her support in the latest leadership contest that saw him take the keys to Number 10 in October.

But the PM has continued to stand by his decision and insisted she had “learned from her mistake”.

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