Suella Braverman ‘confident that nothing untoward happened’ over speeding ticket
Rishi Sunak is set to face an awkward Cabinet meeting on Tuesday as pressure grows on the prime minister to launch an ethics investigation into the home secretary’s handling of a speeding offence.
It comes after Suella Braverman faced a grilling by MPs in the Commons after she allegedly asked her staff to help her dodge a speeding fine, The Sunday Times reported.
Ms Braverman insisted she had done “nothing untoward”. She has admitted speeding and paying a fine – but did not deny asking officials for help in trying to arrange a private speed awareness course.
The prime minister is said to be considering emails in which Whitehall officials raised concerns to the Cabinet Office’s propriety and ethics team about Ms Braverman’s request for help.
Officials were told by the Cabinet Office ethics team to disregard concerns about the home secretary’s request, according to The Times.
The newspaper also claimed the emails show that Ms Braverman instructed them to organise the course, rather than simply soliciting advice, as suggested by her allies.
The home secretary has denied trying to “evade” punishment on the speeding offence.
Tory MPs urge Sunak to sack Braverman if she broke rules over speeding offence
Conservative MPs are urging Rishi Sunak to order an investigation into Suella Braverman and sack her if the home secretary is found to have breached the ministerial rules over her handling of a speeding offence.
Senior Tory MPs told The Independent Ms Braverman had shown “constant poor judgment” and appeared to have made “a mistake too far” following reports she asked officials to try to arrange a private speed awareness course rather than take points on her licence.
In her first public comments on the row, the home secretary did not deny asking civil servants to look into the possibility of a one-on-one course – but said she was confident she had done “nothing untoward” and denied trying to “evade” punishment.
Mr Sunak held back on offering his support, saying he had spoken to both Ms Braverman and No 10 ethics adviser Sir Laurie Magnus and was still seeking “more information” before deciding whether to order an investigation.
Sam Rkaina22 May 2023 19:02
Sunak urged to launch Braverman probe as officials ‘contacted ethics team about speeding emails’
The prime minister is said to be considering emails in which Whitehall officials raised concerns to the Cabinet Office’s propriety and ethics team about Ms Braverman’s request for help to arrange a private speed awareness course.
Mr Sunak faces an awkward cabinet meeting on Tuesday, with his home secretary accused of breaching the ministerial code by asking taxpayer-funded civil servants to assist with a private matter.
Senior Conservatives told The Independent that Ms Braverman had shown “constant poor judgement” and appeared to have made “a mistake too far”.
Ms Braverman insisted she had done “nothing untoward”. She has admitted speeding and paying a fine – but did not deny asking officials for help in trying to arrange a one-to-one speed course rather than joining fellow motorists on the programme.
Officials were so concerned by her alleged request they emailed the Cabinet Office’s propriety and ethics team, who told them to disregard it, according to The Times.
Martha Mchardy23 May 2023 08:17
We’re pausing our live coverage of Suella Braverman for the evening but keep checking independent.co.uk for the latest updates.
Sam Rkaina22 May 2023 20:13
Sunak says he will update MPs “in due course”
Mr Sunak told MPs he would update on any response to the allegations facing Suella Braverman “in due course”.
The Prime Minister said that he had met with Sir Laurie Magnus and the Home Secretary, amid reports she asked officials to try to arrange a private speed awareness course for her rather than take penalty points on her driving licence.
Mr Sunak, giving a statement in the Commons on the G7, said: “I have always been clear that where issues like this are raised, they should be dealt with properly and they should be dealt with professionally.
“Since I have returned from the G7, I have been receiving information on the issues raised, I have met with both the independent adviser and the Home Secretary. I have asked for further information and I will update on the appropriate course of action in due course.”
Sam Rkaina22 May 2023 16:40
Downing Street declines to endorse Braverman’s statement
Downing Street declined to endorse Suella Braverman’s assertions that “at no point did I attempt to evade sanction” and “nothing untoward” had happened.
A spokesman said: “I’m simply speaking on behalf of the Prime Minister in saying that he wants to avail himself of all the information before he makes a decision.
“Again, I’m not going to pre-empt that and set out his view before he’s done that.”
Sam Rkaina22 May 2023 16:35
PM wants ‘proper process’ followed
Mr Sunak wants to make sure a “proper process” is followed, a No 10 spokesman insisted amid questions about the Prime Minister’s conversations on Monday.
Asked what more information he needs to avail himself of, after speaking to both his ethics adviser Sir Laurie Magnus and Ms Braverman, the spokesman said: “As the Prime Minister said before he believes in making sure there is a proper process.
“Again, you’ll know that he only arrived back in the UK in the early hours of the morning this morning.
“So he wants to make sure he takes the time to avail himself of the information and ensure that he has seen and he’s aware of the most up-to-date information and obviously look at that before he takes any decisions.”
The spokesman declined to say whether Mr Sunak will speak to Sir Laurie or the Home Secretary again.
Sam Rkaina22 May 2023 16:30
Sunak ‘has spoken to’ Braverman about handling of speeding offence
Rishi Sunak has spoken to Suella Braverman about her handling of a speeding offence as he “continues to avail himself of the information” about the situation, Downing Street has said.
“He has spoken to the Home Secretary about this, but I’m not going to get into the detail of that conversation,” a No 10 spokesman told reporters.
It is understood Ms Braverman was in Downing Street earlier on Monday for a regular meeting on illegal immigration.
Sam Rkaina22 May 2023 16:19
Rishi Sunak showed Suella Braverman support in Parliament earlier, patting her on the back, inews chief political commentator Paul Waugh said.
Martha Mchardy22 May 2023 15:58
Yvette Cooper asked Suella Braverman whether “she authorised her special adviser to tell journalists that there wasn’t a speeding penalty when there was”.
Speaking in the House of Commons, the shadow home secretary said: “At the heart of the Home Secretary’s responsibility is to ensure that laws are fairly enforced for all. But when she got a speeding penalty, it seems she sought special treatment, a private course and asked civil servants to help.
“She refused to say what she asked civil servants to do so I ask her that again, and to also tell us whether she authorised her special adviser to tell journalists that there wasn’t a speeding penalty when there was?”
The Home Secretary replied: “As I have said earlier, in the summer of last year, I was speeding. I regret that. I paid the fine and I accepted the points. At no time, did I seek to avoid the sanction.”
Ms Braverman said she is “getting on with the job of delivering for the British people”.
Martha Mchardy22 May 2023 15:50
Rishi Sunak rejects view that Britain’s influence in decline as he gives G7 statement
Rishi Sunak gave a G7 statement to MPs, saying he rejects the view that Britain’s influence is in decline.
He said it is a ‘mistake’ to say that Britain is in retreat on the world stage, or that its influence is in decline.
The prime minister said Britain’s influence is clear in its Ukraine policy, and that the UK has been at the forefront of support for Ukraine.
Mr Sunak said the UK is providing more military aid to Ukraine than any country other than the US.
Martha Mchardy22 May 2023 15:48