Rishi Sunak has been told to come clean on what he knew about Suella Braverman’s sacking over a security breach, as Tory MPs joined growing calls for a full inquiry.
The prime minister has been accused of misleading MPs about the home secretary’s departure – just six days before her shock reappointment in what has been condemned as “grubby deal” to get him to No 10.
There are also demands for Mr Sunak to reveal whether he was advised by the Cabinet Secretary not to bring back Ms Braverman, after she admitted a potential security breach.
A Commons committee is being urged to investigate whether Simon Case, the Cabinet Secretary, was over-ruled – as Conservative MPs agreed the controversy must be resolved.
Caroline Nokes, a former home office minister, said “big questions” about Ms Braverman’s return must be cleared up, adding: “If that means a full inquiry, then I think that’s the right thing to do.”
Mark Pritchard, a former member of parliament’s intelligence and security committee, tweeted: “MI5 need to have confidence in the Home Secretary – whoever that might be.
“It’s a vital relationship of trust, key to the UK’s security & democratic oversight of MI5. Any breakdown in that relationship is bad for the Security Service and the government. It needs to be sorted asap.”
On Wednesday, at prime minister’s questions, Mr Sunak told MPs Ms Braverman herself “raised the matter” of her breach of the ministerial code, by releasing sensitive information from a personal email.
But it is widely believed the “mistake” was only revealed when an MP alerted Downing Street, after which Liz Truss confronted and dismissed the home secretary.
No 10 has doubled down on Mr Sunak’s claim, his official spokesman insisting it was “accurate” – while being unable to say how he had verified her version of events.
Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats suggested the Commons has been misled – which would require the prime minister to issue a correction.
Thangam Debbonaire MP, the shadow Commons Leader, said: “The prime pinister must swiftly offer clarity to these contradicting versions of events – which relate to our country’s national security.”
And Alistair Carmichael MP, the Lib Dem home affairs spokesperson, said: “It would appear that, far from owning up herself, Suella Braverman was caught out after she emailed the wrong person.”
On Wednesday, the prime minister ducked a question about what advice he had received – after it was reported that the Cabinet Secretary was “livid” about the home secretary’s return.
David Lammy, Labour’s shadow foreign secretary, said: “We certainly should know what advice Rishi Sunak took from the Cabinet Secretary as to whether he should have reappointed her.”
The Commons public administration committee must investigate the affair – after the government refused to – said one of its members, Labour’s John McDonnell.
In a letter to its Tory chair, William Wragg, he warned of serious constitutional issues if the Cabinet Secretary’s fears have been brushed aside.
“Where a minister has breached security, what assessment is made of the risk of future breaches by the minister concerned?” Mr McDonell has written.
“And who is involved in making this assessment and providing the risk assessment to the prime minister?”
Mr Sunak’s spokesman also insisted MI5 has confidence in the home secretary, after an allegation that she was investigated over the leaking of a story involving the security service.
“The home secretary continues to have strong relationships with all the operational bodies that report into the Home Office and are focused very much on keeping the country safe,” he insisted.