James Cleverly has defended the re-appointment of Suella Braverman as home secretary, saying she has “a very clear agenda” that the prime minister wants to see delivered.
Ms Braverman resigned from the role seven days ago, having breached the ministerial code by sending secure information from her private email, and left with scathing remarks about Liz Truss’s government.
But she was hired back by new PM Rishi Sunak yesterday as he chose a number of familiar faces to make up his cabinet.
Politics live updates: Sunak’s first PMQs at noon as Braverman backlash grows
Labour attacked the move, accusing Mr Sunak of “putting party before country” by appointing Ms Braverman to win over the right wing of his party.
But Mr Cleverly said she had “very, very clear ideas about how we improve the performance of the Home Office” and had apologised for the mistakes of the past.
“Suella made a mistake,” he told Sky News. “She has said herself that she made a mistake. She’s apologised for that mistake and she stood down at the time.
“She has shown a willingness to take responsibility for what happened – but ultimately [the PM] has decided that he wants to see the agenda that she has set out, that very important crime fighting agenda, back in the heart of government.”
Labour’s shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper pointed to Mr Sunak’s speech on the steps of Downing Street after becoming prime minister, saying his government would have “integrity, professionalism and accountability at every level”.
“Yet he has just appointed Suella Braverman to be home secretary again a week after she resigned for breaches of the ministerial code, security lapses, sending sensitive government information through unauthorised personal channels, and following weeks of non-stop public disagreements with other cabinet ministers,” she added.
“Our national security and public safety are too important for this kind of chaos. We don’t just need a new cabinet, we need a general election and a fresh start with Labour.”
Meanwhile, questions remain over whether the new prime minister will go ahead with the planned economic statement at Halloween, organised in response to the market turmoil caused by Ms Truss’s tax-slashing mini-budget last month.
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, who has stayed in post at the Treasury, reversed most of her policies when he came into his role just over a week ago.
But the Commons statement set for 31 October is due to provide longer term plans to fill to fiscal blackhole the government has been left with after Ms Truss’s short tenure, along with a much anticipated forecast from the Office for Budget Responsibility – something that was missing from the mini-budget.
Foreign Secretary James Cleverly told Sky News this morning he had not had “specific confirmation of dates” and Mr Sunak will “want to take some time to work on the detail” alongside his chancellor.
But he added: “We know it needs to come soon. We know people want certainty.
“We know people want a clear idea of the government’s plans [but] whether it happens exactly on that day, I’m not able to confirm.”
Labour’s shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson said she was “surprised and alarmed” that the Halloween statement could be delayed, and said it showed “never-ending chaos… at the heart of government”.
“We don’t yet fully know the scale of the damage that the Conservatives have cause to our economy,” she told Sky News. “We’ve seen all this chaos and we do need to see those forecasts… as soon as possible.
“Big decisions not being taken and it creates massive problems for our country… that are not being addressed.”