Suella Braverman has criticised Liz Truss’s “tumultuous” premiership as she quit as British home secretary, further imperilling the embattled prime minister’s grip on power.
The popular figure among the Tory right told Ms Truss she had made a “technical infringement” of the rules by sending an official document from a personal email and was now taking responsibility.
“I have made a mistake; I accept responsibility; I resign,” she wrote in a barely-coded dig at the prime minister whose disastrous mini-budget sparked financial turmoil.
In her resignation letter, she added: “The business of government relies upon people accepting responsibility for their mistakes. Pretending we haven’t made mistakes, carrying on as if everyone can’t see that we have made them, and hoping that things will magically come right is not serious politics.
“It is obvious to everyone that we are going through a tumultuous time.”
Ms Braverman, a former contender for the Tory leadership, also said she had “concerns about the direction of this Government”, warning that ministers had “broken key pledges” to voters.
She also raised “serious concerns” about the government’s manifesto commitments including stopping unauthorised migration and reducing migration numbers.
In a brief response, Ms Truss said: “It is important that the ministerial code is upheld and that Cabinet confidentiality is respected.”
The home secretary’s resignation came as Ms Truss faced threats from multiple fronts:
– She faces a Tory rebellion on a Labour-led motion to ban fracking that is being seen as a “confidence motion” in her Government.
– A sixth Conservative MP publicly called for her resignation when William Wragg said he was “personally ashamed” of telling his constituents to back the Tories.
– There is speculation a tranche of Tories have sent letters to the chair of the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers Sir Graham Brady demanding a no confidence vote.
Reports have suggested Grant Shapps, a major backer of Rishi Sunak for the Tory leadership and a critic of Ms Truss’s subsequently abandoned plan to abolish the top rate of income tax, was being lined up to succeed Ms Braverman.
The former transport secretary was seen entering Downing Street after the cabinet resignation.
Ms Braverman, a former attorney general, admitted sending an “official document from my personal email” to a parliamentary colleague. She acknowledged that constituted a “technical infringement of the rules”, but made clear of a major rift with Ms Truss in her resignation letter.
Her exit comes just five days after Ms Truss sacked Kwasi Kwarteng as chancellor of the exchequer, meaning she has lost two people from the four great offices of state within her first six weeks in office.
Ms Braverman was appointed to replace Priti Patel in the role only on September 6th and her exit after just 43 full days makes her the shortest-serving home secretary in modern political history.
Her tenure was controversial, having accused Tory critics who successfully forced Ms Truss into U-turning over the top rate of income tax plans of a “coup”.
Meanwhile, Conservative MPs were defying a three-line whip to say they would not support the government’s amendment to the Labour motion on fracking. The move means they could be kicked out of the parliamentary party over the vote, which the Tory whips billed as a “confidence motion”.
Losing such a vote would mean Ms Truss would be expected to quit as prime minister or ask King Charles to dissolve parliament and trigger a general election.
Chris Skidmore, the MP and governmental net-zero tsar, said he would not be voting with the government and was “prepared to face the consequences of my decision”.
Former minister Tracey Crouch and backbencher Angela Richardson both replied online saying “ditto”.
Earlier in the day, Ms Truss insisted she was a “fighter, not a quitter” as more Tory MPs heaped pressure on her to resign.
She made a public apology in the House of Commons as she faced Prime Minister’s Questions for the first time since her economic plan was ditched by chancellor Jeremy Hunt.
On Monday, Mr Hunt reversed almost all the tax cuts announced by predecessor Mr Kwarteng as he sought to calm financial markets following weeks of turbulence.
The prime minister told MPs: “I have been very clear that I am sorry and that I have made mistakes.”
But she added: “The right thing to do in those circumstances is to make changes, which I have made, and to get on with the job and deliver for the British people.”
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer mocked Ms Truss, saying: “What’s the point of a prime minister whose promises don’t even last a week?”
He added of a book which is being written about her: “Apparently it’s going to be out by Christmas. Is that the release date or the title?”
In other developments, Ms Truss:
– Committed to the triple-lock on pensions, meaning the state pension will increase in line with the 10.1 per cent inflation figure from April, after being threatened with a backbench revolt.
– Declined to give the same guarantee to link increases in benefits to inflation.
– Insisted she backed social care reform following a Times report that plans for a cap on costs was being delayed for a year.
Her own MPs posed some of the most challenging questions on issues including fracking, social care, international aid spending and the benefits increase, in a sign that there was little appetite to rally round the beleaguered leader.
But former cabinet minister Sajid Javid – the subject of a hostile briefing from a No 10 source who described him as “sh*t” – did not ask a question, despite being listed to do so.
One of the prime minister’s senior aides, Jason Stein, has reportedly been suspended pending an investigation by the Cabinet Office propriety and ethics team into the briefing against Mr Javid.
Asked about the report, the rime minister’s press secretary said: “I am not going to get into individual staffing matters but the prime minister has made very clear to her team that some of the sort of briefings that we have seen are completely unacceptable about parliamentary colleagues and they must stop.”
Ms Truss is attempting to build bridges with Tory MPs, including through “fairly regular” events for backbenchers, No 10 said.
But there is speculation that the chairman of the Tory backbench 1922 Committee Sir Graham Brady had already received more than 54 letters calling for a confidence vote in the PM, the threshold for triggering one if Ms Truss was not in the 12 months’ grace period for new leaders.
“I wouldn’t get into private conversations,” the Prime Minister’s press secretary said.
“That’s the first I’ve heard.”
Mr Wragg told the Commons he has submitted a letter to Sir Graham.
Mr Wragg, vice chairman of the 1922 Committee, told MPs: “What occurred with that financial statement, I am personally ashamed because I cannot go and face my constituents, look them in the eye and say that they should support our great party, and the polls would seem to bear that out.” – PA
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