Michael Gove has defended cabinet colleague Suella Braverman’s controversial reappointment, describing her as a “first-rate, front-rank politician”.
Ms Braverman was forced to resign from Liz Truss’s government after she sent an official document from her personal email to a fellow MP and copied in another MP by mistake.
New Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is under growing pressure over reinstating her as home secretary just six days later, after a former party chair claimed she had committed “multiple breaches” of the ministerial code.
Mr Gove told Sophy Ridge on Sunday that Ms Braverman was a “valued member of the cabinet” who “acknowledged a mistake had been made”.
“Suella is a first-rate, front-rank politician,” he said.
“She acknowledged that a mistake had been made. She is working hard in order to ensure that our borders can be made more secure, and that policing is more effective.
“She’s a valued member of the cabinet and someone whom I admire and like.”
Mr Gove, the levelling up secretary, also dismissed a report that Ms Braverman ignored legal advice over the situation at Manston, the migrant processing centre in Kent where conditions have been described as “wretched”.
According to the Sunday Times, the home secretary has been warned that detaining asylum seekers there for long periods of time was breaking the law.
Mr Gove said Ms Braverman “did not ignore or dismiss” legal advice.
But he acknowledged the situation at Manston “is not perfect”, adding: “It’s absolutely vital that we process people as quickly as possible and keep them in humane conditions”.
Mr Gove was also asked about a report in the Mail on Sunday which alleges Liz Truss’s phone was hacked by suspected Russian agents while she was foreign secretary – and that then-prime minister Boris Johnson had covered it up.
He said the government “takes cyber security incredibly seriously” and has “very robust protocols”.
‘Chaos, confusion and irresponsible decision making’
However, Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper has said the government does not have a grip on national security.
She questioned whether the phone hacking story had been leaked “to distract from other issues”, and said the person who ought to be “providing reassurance” is Ms Braverman, but “she can’t do that because she’s still unable to answer those serious questions about her own security breaches and lapses”.
Labour has been urging the government to publish its assessments of Ms Braverman’s security breach, with leader Sir Keir Starmer accusing Mr Sunak of brokering a “grubby deal trading security for support” in the Tory leadership contest, which he won after receiving Ms Braverman’s backing.
On Ms Braverman’s reappointment, Ms Cooper told Sophy Ridge: “We have to have proper answers about whether or not this was the first security breach.
“We think that the papers and the warnings that were provided by the Cabinet Office and by the Cabinet Secretary to the prime minister should be sent to the Intelligence and Security Committee.”
Ms Cooper said Labour have been “asking repeatedly” whether the home secretary has used her personal phone to send other government documents.
She said: “There’s also questions about whether she was investigated for other security leaks, including around a case involving security service, and around a case involving sensitive legal advice around Northern Ireland.”
Ms Cooper said this “is just irresponsible”, adding: “You can’t have a home secretary who is not trusted by the security service, who is not trusted with important government information.
“National security it too important for this chaos confusion and irresponsible decision making”.