Braverman insists she has done “nothing out of the ordinary” while Sunak ponders a possible investigation
Uella Braverman insisted she did “nothing out of the ordinary” as she fought to save her job after asking officials to help organize a private speed awareness class for her.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is considering ordering an investigation into allegations that the interior minister broke the ministerial code by asking taxpayer-funded officials for help with a private matter.
The Home Secretary insisted she had not tried to avoid a speeding penalty and Downing Street said Mr Sunak still had faith in her.
But No. 10 specifically refused to support her claims that she had done nothing wrong after speeding last year.
The Interior Minister admitted the speeding, paid a fine and took penalty points for her driver’s license.
However, she did not deny asking officers for help organizing a personal speed awareness course for her, rather than simply joining other motorists in the program, which allows those with minor infractions to avoid earning points on their driver’s license.
Mr Sunak, who flew back overnight from the G7 summit in Japan, spoke to both his independent adviser on ministerial interests, Sir Laurie Magnus, and the home secretary on Monday as he considered his response.
It has always been clear to me that issues like these should be dealt with properly and professionally
Without the Prime Minister’s approval, Sir Laurie cannot open an inquiry into a minister’s conduct.
The Prime Minister told MPs: “It has always been clear to me that issues like this should be dealt with properly and professionally.”
“Since returning from the G7 summit, I have been receiving information on the issues raised and have met with both the independent adviser and the Home Secretary. I have requested further information and will provide guidance on the appropriate course of action in due course.”
In her first public comments on the dispute, Ms Braverman did not deny that she had called for officers to intervene.
When asked directly if she had asked officials to organize a one-to-one class for her, she replied to broadcasters: “Last summer I was speeding. I regret that. I paid the fine and received the points but our focus now is on doing and working for the British people.”
Pressed for the same question, she said: “In relation to the process, my focus is on delivering for the British people and fulfilling my job as Home Secretary and what I want to say is that I think I believe in that am.” Nothing unusual happened.”
Ms Braverman then appeared at a regular Home Office question time in the House of Commons and told MPs: “I paid the fine and took the penalty and at no point did I attempt to evade the sanction.”
Downing Street declined to support Ms Braverman’s claims that nothing unusual had happened and that she was not trying to avoid a sanction.
A spokesman said the Prime Minister “wants to use all information before making a decision” and “I will not prejudge and state his position before he has done so”.
Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer has said Ms Braverman should resign if she is found to have breached the ministerial code.
Amy Leversidge, deputy secretary general of the FDA union, which represents senior officials, said, “The Ministerial Code is clear that public duties must be separated from private interests, and Suella Braverman should have known better.”
The dispute stems from reports in the Sunday Times and the Mail on Sunday that Ms Braverman asked Home Office officials to help organize an individual driving awareness course, rather than the group session normally offered to motorists for minor speeding offenses.
Officials are said to have turned down the request, which is why Ms Braverman allegedly contacted a political adviser to help her agree on an alternative to a class with members of the public.
The speeding offense happened last year while Ms. Braverman was serving as Attorney General.
According to the Daily Mirror, the Home Secretary’s special adviser has repeatedly denied that Ms Braverman had been caught speeding when a reporter from the newspaper brought the suggestion to them last month.
A spokesman for Number 10 said advisers should tell the truth “of course” to the press.
Allies of Ms Braverman defended her, with former Cabinet Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg saying there was no need for an inquiry.
He told BBC Radio 4’s World at One: “I would have thought the Prime Minister could think that through pretty clearly, that it’s not a big story.”
He added: “What happens in private offices is that a minister is busy, has many things to do and sometimes demands something that civil servants cannot do.”
“But as long as you accept it once they say no, you haven’t done anything wrong.”
Tory MP Miriam Cates told the Daily Mail: “Suella has done nothing wrong.
“Approximately 1.5 million people take speed awareness courses each year, so this is hardly news. By berating the Home Secretary in this way someone is clearly trying to play the man, not the ball.
“It’s insidious and undermines democracy.”
But former head of civil services Lord Kerslake said Mr Sunak should “move on” and launch a formal inquiry.
The Crossbench colleague told Channel 4 News: “We don’t really have the full facts yet. And he doesn’t have all the facts in my opinion.
“He seems to be conducting a sloppy investigation before an investigation, but he’d be better off just going ahead and having Sir Laurie do the necessary work on it.”
https://www.standard.co.uk/news/politics/suella-braverman-home-secretary-jacob-reesmogg-keir-starmer-prime-minister-b1082904.html Braverman insists she has done “nothing out of the ordinary” while Sunak ponders a possible investigation