The questions facing Suella Braverman today
Welcome to Monday’s Early Edition from i.
Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, is expected to face awkward questions today over claims she asked civil servants to help her avoid incurring points on her licence for speeding. Last summer, while working as the attorney general, Mrs Braverman was caught going over the limit in a 50mph zone. But it wasn’t until months later, when in her role as Home Secretary, that she reportedly attempted to minimise the consequences. “You shouldn’t do it in the first place but if you do get caught, you just take the medicine,” former Conservative Party chairman Sir Jake Berry helpfully noted yesterday. Today, Mrs Braverman is expected to be quizzed by MPs and her own boss, Rishi Sunak, who will also face pressure to set up an inquiry into the incident. Mrs Braverman is certainly no stranger to controversy. Her first stint as home secretary lasted just 43 days after she admitted she broke the ministerial code over an email she sent. Many of her actions – from her comments on the “Guardian-reading, tofu-eating wokerati” to her hardline stance on migration has prompted outcry. Just how serious could this latest incident be, and why have the claims surfaced now? We’ll take a look, after the headlines.
Today’s news, and why it matters
A campaign is growing in Europe to halt the forced use of prepayment meters while the UK appears likely to restart court warrants ahead of winter. More than 50m people across the continent are struggling to pay their energy bills as a new manifesto by a coalition of anti-poverty and environmental groups calls for a ban on disconnections.
Labour will not put up taxes in order to fund some of the changes needed for a 1945-style reformation of the NHS, the party has said. Keir Starmer will unveil his plan for the future of the health service at a major speech on Monday as he sets out the “deep, long-term changes” needed to build an NHS fit for the future. Ambulance response times, junk food advertising, smoking and vaping are all expected to form a central part of Sir Keir’s vision.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will face fresh pressure over migration this week ahead of expected record figures with the formation of a new Tory lobby group focused on bringing down numbers. On Sunday, a number of Conservative MPs announced the formation of a group dubbed the “New Conservatives”. One of the group’s key priorities is pressuring the Government to bring down legal migration.
Ministers are to step up plans to protect the next general election from interference or manipulation by artificial intelligence, it has emerged. Inside Whitehall, officials are to use new legislation to tackle AI threats as well as a series of measures to stop future local and general elections being hijacked by deep fakes and misinformation spread by hostile forces.
Holly Willoughby will be absent from This Morning for two weeks after the high-profile departure of her co-presenter Phillip Schofield amid claims of a feud. An ITV spokesperson confirmed to i that the show’s regular Friday presenters Alison Hammond and Dermot O’Leary will be covering on Monday, when Willoughby and Schofield would usually be expected to be on air.
As Labour gears up for its biggest fundraising effort in a decade, i can reveal the wealthy businessman who the party believes can help them win over more rich financial backers to help them build up a pre-election war chest. Last year Gary Lubner, the outgoing boss of Autoglass owner Belron, gifted £142,000 to the party and he is expected to become an even more significant player in the Labour’s finances in the run up to the next year’s general election.
Three questions over Suella Braverman’s speeding fine:
What’s she done? It could have been simple enough. Suella Braverman was caught speeding on a road outside London last summer – something her spokesperson yesterday said the Home Secretary “accepts… And regrets doing so”. She took three points and paid a fine last year, they added. But the problem is a report in the Sunday Times, which says she allegedly asked civil servants to arrange a private one-to-one course to avoid taking the points. When they refused, Mrs Braverman reportedly turned to a political aide to assist her in attempting to arrange an alternative to having to attend a course with other motorists. And according to the Mirror, Mrs Braverman’s team allegedly denied, repeatedly, that she had been caught speeding when a reporter questioned them over it last month. The paper said the official they spoke to claimed it was “nonsense” and that someone was spreading “scurrilous” rumours about her.
How serious is it? The main question over the debacle will be whether or not Mrs Braverman has breached the ministerial code. If she has been found to, she could come under pressure to resign. As we know, she was forced to briefly step down last year, under former PM Liz Truss, when it emerged she had mishandled sensitive government emails. Labour and the Lib Dems are calling on the PM to bring in his ethics advisor Sir Laurie Magnus to investigate the matter. Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner has written to Rishi Sunak on the matter, in which she pointed out that the code means ministers must uphold the political impartiality of the civil service and not ask officials to act in any way which would conflict with the Civil Service Code. Under that code, public servants must not “misuse” their position to “further private interests or those of others”. Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said: “The prime minister has promised integrity, professionalism and accountability yet it appears his home secretary is blatantly flouting all three. We need an urgent investigation into what has gone on here.” Downing St says Mr Sunak will consult Sir Laurie when he returns from the G7 summit – any investigation into the matter will require the PM’s sign-off. It’s also expected he will talk to Cabinet Secretary Simon Case over the incident. Opposition MPs could also apply for an Urgent Question in the Commons on the matter.
Is the timing significant? Tory MPs have suggested that the report was timed to coincide with Cabinet splits over immigration police. Henry Smith, MP for Crawley, told i the claims were part of a “broader Whitehall effort” to oust the Home Secretary. “Having apologised for speeding last summer, accepted the sanction and unless there are any further circumstances I’m unaware of, I don’t think that’s a resigning or sacking issue,” he said. “I’d go further that I think this show’s evidence of a broader Whitehall effort to remove Braverman due to her policy stance. One former minister added it was “odd timing for it to be leaked” and suggested that there was “no doubt it is Number 10 briefing against her”. Pressure over the issue of immigration is mounting on the government, and today we can also expect more fallout from another report, which says Mrs Braverman tried to miss the final Commons vote on the small boats bill. According to the Guardian, the chief whip, Simon Hart, had to call the Home Secretary directly to instruct her to attend the vote on the illegal migration bill, which had a three-line whip. Home Office questions in the Commons kick off at 2.30pm today – stay tuned.
Around the world
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has insisted the frontline city of Bakhmut “is not occupied” by Russia after Wagner founder Yevgeny Prigozhin claimed control. Ukrainian military sources told the BBC they still had control of a handful of buildings on the outskirts of the city, while Mr Zelensky told the G7 summit the city was “not occupied” by Russia.
The West could be heading for a new Cold War with Russia, but not before the “hot war” in Ukraine is over. “The first difference between the Cold War of the past and now is that this isn’t very cold,” says General Lord Dannatt, who was the British Army’s chief of the general staff until 2009. “This is a hot war between Russia and Ukraine.”
Britons hoping to study in Japan as part of the country’s huge drive to attract 400,000 foreign students may have to settle for third-rate rural campuses that are miles from major cities, experts have warned. Academics say the plan’s true purpose is to save low-ranked institutions from “financial ruin” as Japan’s declining population fails to produce enough young people to support its universities.
Princess Giacinta Ruspoli, a 33-year-old heiress to one of Italy’s most ancient noble dynasties hailing back to the middle ages, says she has to work round the clock to maintain her family palaces. “We must exploit our properties, open up the doors of our palazzos to holidaymakers in order to survive. We can no longer live isolated in our castello. We have to mingle with people and make a business out of what we have left,” Princess Ruspoli tells i.
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has placed a polished wooden sculpture that bears a resemblance to his girlfriend Lauren Sánchez on his $500m superyacht, it has been reported. The pair have been spotted sailing around Mallorca in the vessel.
Watch out for…
BBC News, which today launches three new programmes, which aim to be reactive, versatile and accessible.
Thoughts for the day
I worked to help get David Cameron elected – after 13 years I’m appalled by the Tories’ record. The legacy of my boss’s success is evident today in the corroded political and economic landscape of our nation, explains Ian Birrell.
Bring on the apocalypse, at least we won’t have to deal with more AI. The world of programming is not my world, says Lucy Mangan.
Uncomfortably off: people earning £180,000 are now claiming to be feeling the pinch. You might be thinking ‘oh boo-hoo!’, but it begs the question: what does it mean to be comfortably off in Britain today, asks Gerry Mitchell and Marcos González Hernando.
Martin Amis and Andy Rourke showed 80s teenagers like me what was possible. Their deaths have left me wistful for my salad days, writes Stefano Hatfield.
The Big Read
Missguided is back a year after it went bust, but fast fashion is struggling badly. While the relaunched brand struggles with sales under new owners, suppliers to the original Missguided are still suffering from its insolvency, and rival retailers are in trouble too.
Manchester City should cherish moments like this even if they come around every year. City have barely put a foot wrong all season and we’re just going to have to get used to that, writes Daniel Storey.
Something to brighten your day
A former Gurkha soldier who lost both his legs in Afghanistan has become the first double above-the-knee amputee to reach the top of Mount Everest. Hari Budha Magar, 43, who now lives in Canterbury, Kent, arrived at Everest exactly 13 years since his legs were destroyed by an IED in Afghanistan in 2010. The veteran said he initially believed his life was “completely finished” after losing his lower legs. But after scaling the summit he said: “Without (losing my legs), I wouldn’t be climbing Everest, so and it wouldn’t even count much. Whatever happens, it happens for good. No matter how big your dreams, no matter how challenging your disability, with the right mindset anything is possible.”