The Conservative party chair has been forced to apologise to the civil service after an email sent out in Suella Braverman’s name said public servants had frustrated plans to curb small boats crossings.
The home secretary distanced herself from the email sent to thousands of Tory supporters, in which she blamed “an activist blob of leftwing lawyers, civil servants and the Labour party” for the government’s failure to stop Channel crossings.
In an email to the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union, the cabinet secretary, Simon Case, said the party chair, Greg Hands, had apologised for the communication, and insisted it was not sent with the home secretary’s blessing.
In the email, Case said Hands had made assurances that he had “already taken action to change procedures in CCHQ” to ensure there was “not a repeat of this incident”.
In a letter dated 11 March, Case told the PCS general secretary, Mark Serwotka: “You will have seen that the home secretary has been clear that she did not see, sign off or sanction the email. She has also written to staff across the Home Office to thank them for their outstanding work on the illegal migration bill.
“Furthermore, the home secretary has also made clear her gratitude to Home Office civil servants in her public interviews in recent days. I have also spoken to the party chairman who apologised for the error.
“He assured me that he has already taken action to change procedures in CCHQ to make sure that there is not a repeat of this incident. Finally, the party chairman has also provided his assurance that attacks on the civil service are not part of any standard CCHQ lines.”
Case told Serwotka, who wrote to the civil service chief about the email’s attack on government workers, that he took “any instances that may undermine our impartiality incredibly seriously”.
The email drew an angry response from civil servants, although Downing Street said Braverman “did not see, sign off or sanction” the message, which was sent out to Tory members in her name by Conservative Campaign Headquarters.
In an interview with ITV last week, Braverman said: “I didn’t write that email, I didn’t see it and it was an error that it was sent out in my name.”
Rishi Sunak’s official spokesperson said the email “certainly does not represent the views of the prime minister”.
The government faced opposition from MPs across the House of Commons as it attempted to push the illegal migration bill through parliament on Monday. After a bad-tempered four-hour debate, a Labour amendment to block the bill was defeated by 312 votes to 250 during its second reading.