Who Is Suella Braverman And Why Is Her Appointment Controversial?

Labour accused Rishi Sunak of doing a "grubby deal" with his home secretary.
Suella Braverman
Suella Braverman

Tory MP Suella Braverman has been made home secretary just six days after she was forced to resign the same post over a serious security breach.

Her re-appointment by the new prime minister, Rishi Sunak, has sparked a fresh political row.

Opposition parties have accused the PM of making a “grubby deal” with Braverman and demanded a cabinet office inquiry.

The MP for Fareham, who is on the right of her party, holds one of the great offices of state and is effectively in charge of the United Kingdom’s security.

Here, HuffPost UK talks you through who she is and why her re-appointment has proved so controversial.

Who Is Suella Braverman?

Braverman was born in Harrow, north west London, and grew up in Wembley. Her father and mother moved to Britain from Kenya and Mauritius respectively with “very little” in the 1960s, according to Braverman’s website.

Her mother started working in the NHS at the age of 18 and worked as a nurse for 45 years, while her father worked for a housing association. Her mother was also a local councillor for 16 years.

They named Braverman after Sue Ellen Ewing from the American soap opera Dallas which was hugely popular when she was born in 1980.

She recently told The Sun: “My name is actually Sue-Ellen because my mum was a fan of Dallas and thought this would be a great name for her daughter. I’ve been plagued ever since.”

She said her primary school teachers did not like the hyphen so they “came up with Suella on my little tag for my coat and that stuck”.

Braverman attended a local state school before her parents sent her to a private school where she won a partial scholarship.

She went on to read law at Queens’ College Cambridge where she was also president of the university’s Conservative Association.

Braverman studied a masters in European and French Law at the Pantheon-Sorbonne in Paris and the New York Bar exams, qualifying as an attorney in New York state.

Called to the Bar in 2005, Braverman specialised in public law and judicial review. She defended the home office in immigration cases and the parole board in challenges by prisoners.

Braverman was elected as the Tory MP for Fareham in May 2015 after attempts in other seats – including Leicester East in 2005 against Labour’s Keith Vaz.

The Brexiteer served on a series of parliamentary committees and campaigned for the UK to leave the European Union. She also served as chair of the Tory party’s eurosceptic European Research Group [ERG].

Braverman was promoted to parliamentary private secretary to the Treasury and in 2018 made a junior minister for exiting the European Union.

However, she resigned the following November among the so-called “Spartans’ who quit Theresa May’s government over her draft Brexit deal.

She was made attorney general by Boris Johnson in February 2020, sparking controversy over her approach on some issues including on the toppling of the Colston statue.

In her role as the government’s lawyer, Braverman said she was “carefully considering” whether to refer the case to the court of appeal after a jury cleared four protesters of criminal damage.

And when the European Court of Human Rights intervened in June 2022 to ground a deportation flight of asylum seekers to Rwanda, Braverman said it was time to “complete Brexit and let the British people decide who can and cannot stay in our country”.

She became a key figure in the so-called “culture wars” waged by the government under Johnson. In one interview Braverman expressed her pride at being a “child of the British Empire” which she claimed had been a “force for good”.

She also called on schools not to “pander” to trans children and told one police force to “focus on catching criminals not policing pronouns”.

Braverman has also attacked civil servants, accusing them of frustrating Brexit due to their “remain bias”.

Private Life

She married Rael Braverman, an executive at Mercedes-Benz, in February 2018 at the House of Commons, after three years together.

The couple have two children together including George, born in 2019, and a little girl called Gabriella, born in 2021.

The government updated the law so that as attorney general she could take six months’ maternity leave. Braverman became one of the most senior government ministers to give birth in office.

Running For Prime Minister

As Johnson’s administration collapsed around his ears, Braverman slammed the then PM for his handling of the Chris Pincher scandal that triggered his downfall.

The PM had conducted himself “appallingly”, Braverman said, adding: “It pains me to say it — but it’s time to go.”

She was the first to declare her candidacy in the race to replace Johnson in the summer leadership contest.

Braverman railed against “woke nonsense” and garnered support from the right of the party.

However, she was eliminated after the second ballot of MPs and went on to endorse Liz Truss.

Home Secretary

Braverman was first made home secretary by Truss in September 2022, replacing Priti Patel.

During her short tenure she clashed with the prime minister over immigration and broke with the government line by saying she wanted a return to David Cameron’s target of fewer than 100,000 newcomers a year.

She also raised eyebrows with a bizarre speech in the Commons in which she attacked the “Guardian-reading tofu-eating wokerati”.

And after just six weeks in the job, Braverman resigned saying she made a “mistake” by sending an official document from her private email account.

She admitted that she had breached the ministerial code by sending the restricted document to fellow right-wing MP Sir John Hayes.

It also transpired that Braverman accidentally copied in someone she believed was Sir John’s wife, but was in fact an aide to Conservative MP Andrew Percy, who raised the alarm.

She argued it was merely a draft written ministerial statement on immigration which had been due for publication imminently.

As she stood down, Braverman took a swipe at Truss saying: “Pretending we haven’t made mistakes, carrying on as if can’t see that we have made them, and hoping that things will magically come right is not serious politics.”

Braverman said she had “serious concerns” about the government’s commitment to honouring manifesto commitments on immigration and boat crossings.

After sparking the downfall of Truss, Braverman went on to back Sunak in leadership contest.

Guess Who Is Back?

Braverman made a sensational return as home secretary just six days after resigning from the same role under Truss’s government.

Despite effectively breaking the ministerial code twice, she was back as one of the most senior and influential ministers in the government.

Cabinet secretary Simon Case, the most senior civil servant, is said to be “livid” over her swift return and “very concerned” about the breach, a source told The Times.

Her appointment has also prompted a major backlash from opposition parties who say Sunak has trashed his pledge to restore “integrity”.

Labour leader Keir Starmer accused Sunak of doing a “grubby deal” to reappoint Braverman while the Lib Dems called for a cabinet office inquiry.

Starmer told MPs: “He’s so weak, he’s done a grubby deal trading national security because he was scared to lose another leadership election.”

Sunak said he was “delighted” to reappoint Braveman and that she had “accepted her mistake” and was part of a “united Cabinet”.


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