The reappointment of Suella Braverman as Home Secretary after she broke ministerial rules sets a “dangerous precedent”, MPs have said.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has resisted demands to launch an inquiry into Ms Braverman breaking the Ministerial Code by sharing a sensitive document with a Tory backbencher from a personal email without permission.
She was sacked from her role then given the job back six days later when Mr Sunak became PM.
The public administration and constitutional affairs committee has issued a new report recommending the Business Appointment Rules, governing what employment ministers and senior officials can take up after leaving Government, are expanded and made legally enforceable to act as a “sufficient deterrent” for improper conduct.
The committee also said reappointing Ms Braverman sets a “dangerous precedent” for how breaches of the code are dealt with.
They said the the leaking of restricted material would be worthy of “significant sanction” under the new rules introduced by Boris Johnson in May this year, saying a new Prime Minister should not be able to simply “wipe the slate clean” when it comes to appointing ministers.
Its chair, Tory MP William Wragg, said: “It is incumbent on the Government to ensure a robust and effective system for upholding standards in public life is put in place, with proper sanctions for those who break the rules.
“Our inquiry has found that although we have a sophisticated landscape of ethics watchdogs in the UK to safeguard standards in public life, they lack the power to enforce the rules.
“The Prime Minister is rightly the ultimate arbiter of the rules in our system.
“We urge him to show leadership and give legal status to all the ethics watchdogs.
“This will provide a better deterrent for those who may be tempted to act improperly, and further safeguard the integrity of our public life.”
Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner accused Mr Sunak of running a “rotten ethics regime”.
She tweeted: “The buck stops with the PM. But despite the promises of integrity Rishi Sunak has no plan to restore standards after years of sleaze and scandal.
“He’s showing every sign of attempting to preserve the rotten ethics regime of his disgraced predecessors.”
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has demanded the Home Secretary’s sacking, 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.
But the Prime Minister has insisted Ms Braverman has “learned from her mistake” and that he does not regret the appointment despite some Conservative MPs adding their voices to the backlash.
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