Suella Braverman condemned for claiming asylum seekers engaged in ‘invasion’ of south coast – as it happened

Last modified: 07: 18 PM GMT+0

Home secretary criticised by charities for using ‘inflammatory’ language a day after petrol bomb attack on immigration centre

Early evening summary

  • Suella Braverman, the home secretary, has said she “never ignored legal advice” on keeping asylum seekers at an overcrowded immigration centre. In a Commons statement, she claimed she never blocked proposals for asylum seekers to be housed in hotels (despite reports quoting multiple sources claiming she did). But Braverman also seemed to accept that the overcrowding at the Manston immigration centre was partly her responsibility, because she said she refused toprematurely release thousands of people into local communities without having anywhere for them to stay”. (See 5.27pm.) She also outraged charities representing refugees by saying that asylum seekers were staging an “invasion” of the south coast of England. (See 6.43pm.) Some Tory MPs strongly backed her stance in the Commons, and while others are privately alarmed at what she is doing at the Home Office, they did not speak out in the chamber this afternoon. Braverman’s performance may boost her standing in her party in the short term, but it is unlikely to quell allegations that she mishandled the situation. These are from ITV’s Robert Peston.

There is basic contradiction in @SuellaBraverman’s statement to MPs on crisis at Manston asylum-processing centre. On one hand she says she has not illegally ignored official advice to secure alternative accommodation for asylum seekers and on other hand she says she…

— Robert Peston (@Peston) October 31, 2022

refused to release asylum-seekers to “no-fixed-abode” in the community. What she has not explained is that if her critics are wrong, that she didn’t frustrate deals to procure accommodation, why there is an excess of 2500 asylum seekers sleeping on the bare floor at…

— Robert Peston (@Peston) October 31, 2022

Manston. She has singularly failed to explain who is responsible for this disastrous mismatch, so damaging for the UK’s humanitarian reputation, if not her - especially since she has been heaping praise on her officials and colleagues

— Robert Peston (@Peston) October 31, 2022

For the Telegraph’s Christopher Hope, the crucial claim she made was that illegal immigration is out of control.

My view: Suella Braverman saying: "The system is broken. Illegal immigration is out of control" is huge.
It reminds me of when Labour Home secretary John Reid said the Home Office was "not fit for purpose".
He broke it up a few months later, creating the Ministry of Justice.

— Christopher Hope📝 (@christopherhope) October 31, 2022

Updated

Andrew Slaughter (Lab) asks if Braverman ever used other unsecure forms of communication, like WhatsApp, to pass on government documents.

Braverman dodges the questions. She says she explained all this in her letter today (it did not cover this point), and she attacks Labour’s record on immigration.

The statement is now over. Braverman was taking questions for about an hour and 40 minutes.

Updated

Stephen Farry (Alliance) says more than 70% of asylum claims are successful. So it is wrong to describe these people as economic migrants, he says.

Braverman says what is not right is for people to come here to take advantage of the UK system.

Updated

Back in the Commons Suella Braverman, the home secretary, says her comment about the immigration system being broken (see 5.23pm) should not be seen as criticism of her predecessor Priti Patel. She says she is grateful for what Patel achieved.

Updated

Campaigners condemn Braverman for claiming asylum seekers engaged in 'invasion' of south coast

The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants has condemned Suella Braverman for saying that asylum seekers are engaged in an “invasion” of the south coast. (See 5.32pm.)

🚨Suella Braverman has called people seeking safety here an 'invasion' on the South Coast.

One day after a far-right firebomb attack on an asylum centre. Heinous.

We cannot allow Braverman's dehumanising language + decision-making to continue. She's putting lives at risk.

— JCWI (@JCWI_UK) October 31, 2022

Care4Calais, another charity working with refugees, has made the same point.

This is incredibly offensive. Refugees are escaping from conflicts – they know what being invaded feels like. We are lucky that many of us do not.
To suggest they are committing an act of war when that is what they are fleeing is indefensible. https://t.co/4x6bnPTnhY

— Care4Calais (@Care4Calais) October 31, 2022

And so has Prof Tanja Bueltmann, an academic at the University of Strathclyde specialising in migration.

Utterly despicable for Braverman to use the language of the far right and speak of an ‘invasion’. To choose this kind of inflammatory language a day after the attack on the Dover migrant centre makes it even worse. This is dangerous and unhinged. https://t.co/B2quVQgzpn

— Prof Tanja Bueltmann (@TanjaBueltmann) October 31, 2022

Updated

Peter Bone (Con) claims anyone listening to this statement would conclude the opposition is more interested in the interests of illegal immigrants than in the interests of taxpayers.

Updated

Braverman claims that since she has been home secretary 30 new hotels have been approved as places to house asylum seekers. She says that equates to 4,500 bed spaces.

Updated

Cooper claims Braverman was repeatedly told she was breaking law by blocking plans to deal with Manston overcrowding

This is what Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, said when she accused Suella Braverman of repeatedly ignoring legal advice.

Cooper said Braverman was warned by officials and other ministers that she was “acting outside the law by failing to provide alternative accommodation”. She went on:

Can she confirm she turned down contingency plans that she was offered that would have reduced overcrowding, as the reports say?

Cooper said Braverman also had legal obligations under 1999 legislation and 2018 regulations. She went on:

Can she confirm she was advised repeatedly that she was breaking the law by failing to agree to these plans?

One of these meetings on Manston was on 19 October. Can she confirm she refused these proposals on that date – it was the same day she broke sections 2.3 and sections 1.4 of the ministerial code.

So can she confirm whether she in fact breached the ministerial code, which provides for ministers abiding by the law, three times in a single day and how is anyone supposed to have confidence in her as home secretary with these serious issues?

Updated

Braverman says hotel accommodation for asylum seekers on average cost £150 per person per night. She says by her standards that pays for “quite a nice hotel”. She says complaints about the quality of the accommodation provided are unjustified.

Dame Angela Eagle (Lab) says, if the immigration system is broken, who has been in power for the last 12 years?

Braverman says uncontrolled immigration became a problem when Labour was in power.

Sir Edward Leigh (Con) says: “If people don’t want to go to Manston, they can stay in France.” He says Suella Braverman is under attack because she is determined to tackle the problem. Is she willing to change the law?

Braverman says she does want to change the law. She says it is too easy for people who are not genuine asylum seekers to remain in the UK for long periods of time.

Braverman claims she is victim of 'political witch-hunt'

Labour’s Chris Bryant says he believes in the “rehabilitation of offenders”, but says “you have to serve the time first”. He says Braverman broke the ministerial code six times, but only resigned for six days.

Braverman says she covered this in the letter she released earlier today.

She also says she is the victim of a “political witch-hunt” by people who are “ignoring the facts of the problem”.

Updated

Braverman says migrants should not be housed in four-star hotels

In response to a question from Labour’s Stella Creasy, the home secretary, Suella Braverman, said some asylum seekers were being housed in four-star hotels, costing £150 a night. She said she thought there were better ways of spending public money.

Creasy, who did not get an answer to her question about whether the government would publish the contracts that applied for the care of refugee children, said Braverman appeared not to care.

The Home Secretary just refused to publish details of contract for care of hundreds of refugee children she’s placed in hotels - often 7 to a room - whilst claiming must be nice as it’s costing £150 a night. She either has no idea what she’s commissioned or just doesn’t care.

— stellacreasy (@stellacreasy) October 31, 2022

UPDATE: Braverman told Creasy:

What I would just say to her is this, I think it is a fallacy to suggest that we are somehow cutting corners. When I arrived at the Home Office I have been frankly very dismayed and appalled to find that we are spending on average £150 per person, per night to accommodate people in hotels.

By my standards that is quite a nice hotel and upon my review, and closer scrutiny of how that decision-making was taking place, I identified several four-star hotels around the country being procured for this purpose. For me that is not an acceptable use of taxpayers’ money.

Updated

Back in the Commons Joanna Cherry (SNP) asks Braverman to confirm that detaining people in Manston could amount to illegal detention.

Braverman says she takes legal advice very seriously. But she says releasing asylum seekers in Kent to no fixed abode is not an acceptable option to her.

Updated

I have beefed up the post at 5.32pm to include the quote from Suella Braverman where she accused Labour of not being serious about tackling “the invasion on our southern coast”. You may need to refresh the page to get it to appear.

Updated

The SNP’s Stuart C McDonald is speaking now.

He says Braverman says she did not block the use of hotel accommodation. But did she block the procurement of extra hotel accommodation?

And, referring to Braverman’s letter, he says if Braverman resigned for one breach of the ministerial code, why is she still in office when she broke the code six times?

Braverman says she will admit things that she did wrong. But she will not apologise for things she did not do. It has been claimed she leaked information that was top secret, she says. That is wrong, she says. It has been claimed she leaked information relating to cybersecurity, she claims. That is wrong, she says. It has been claimed that she leaked information related to the intelligence agencies, she says. That is wrong, she says.

(In fact, these are not claims that were made in the mainstream news coverage of what happened.)

UPDATE: Braverman said:

It’s been said that I sent a top secret document, that’s wrong. It’s been said that I sent a document about cyber security, that’s wrong. It’s been said that I sent a document about the intelligence agencies that would compromise national security, that’s wrong. Wrong, wrong.

What is wrong - and worrying is that without compunction these assertions have been repeated as facts by politicians and journalists and I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to clarify the record today.

Updated

Braverman claims 'illegal immigration ... out of control' and Labour not serious about tackling 'invasion of southern coast'

In response to Cooper, Braverman accused Labour of not wanting to tackle the migration problem. She says the system is broken, and illegal immigration is out of control.

💥Astonishing.

Suella Braverman - home secretary of a government that has been in power for 12 years - admits: "The system is broken. Illegal immigration is out of control."

— Pippa Crerar (@PippaCrerar) October 31, 2022

Braverman says she is determined to address this. She claims that that is why some MPs want her out of office.

UPDATE: Braverman said:

Let’s be clear about what is really going on here: the British people deserve to know which party is serious about stopping the invasion on our southern coast and which party is not.

Some 40,000 people have arrived on the south coast this year alone. Many of them facilitated by criminal gangs, some of them actual members of criminal gangs.

So let’s stop pretending that they are all refugees in distress. The whole country knows that is not true. It’s only the honourable members opposite who pretend otherwise.

We need to be straight with the public. The system is broken. Illegal migration is out of control and too many people are interested in playing political parlour games, covering up the truth than solving the problem.

Updated

In her response, Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, implies she is aware of evidence that Braverman did specifically ignore legal advice. She says that that Braverman ignored legal advice repeatedly, and she says on one occasion she broke the ministerial code three times.

Updated

Braverman says she never blocked hotel transfers or ignored legal advice – but she did block release of 'thousands of people' with nowhere to stay

Braverman says, when she became home secretary, she was shocked to learn that 35,000 asylum seekers are being housed in hotel accommodation, at “exorbitant cost” to the taxpayer.

She says she ordered a review.

She says she has never blocked the use of hotels for asylum seekers. Since she became home secretary 12,000 asylum seekers have arrived, and 9,500 of them have moved out of Manston or Western Jet Foil – many going into hotels.

I foresaw the concerns at Manston in September and deployed additional resource and personnel to deliver a rapid increase in emergency accommodation.

To be clear, like the majority of the British people I am very concerned about hotels but I have never blocked their usage.

Indeed since I took over 12,000 people have arrived, 9,500 people have been transferred out of Manston or Western Jet Foil, many of them into hotels.

And I have never ignored legal advice, as a former attorney general I know the importance of taking legal advice into account.

At every point I have worked hard to find alternative accommodation to relieve the pressure at Manston.

But she says she is opposed to the premature release of people into the community without anywhere to stay.

What I have refused to do is to prematurely release thousands of people into local communities without having anywhere for them to stay. That is not just the wrong thing to do. That would be the worst thing to do, for the local community, for the safety of those under our care and for the integrity of our borders.

Updated

Braverman is now talking about the immigration and asylum situation more widely.

There is a “global migration crisis”, she claims

We have seen an unprecedented number of attempts to illegally cross the channel in small boats. Some 14,000 people have crossed this year alone, more than double the number of arrivals by the same point last year.

She says the UK is working with France to stop Channel crossings.

Co-operation with the French has stopped over 29,000 illegal crossings since the start of the year, twice as many as last year, and destroyed over 1,000 boats.

Our UK-France joint intelligence cell has dismantled 55 organised crime groups since it was established in 2020.

There has been a surge in the number of people coming from Albania, she says.

She says people coming to the UK from safe countries are not welcome.

Updated

Braverman tells MPs she is looking at 'all available options' to find accommodation for asylum seekers

Suella Braverman is starting now. She begins with the petrol bomb attack. She says fortunately there were only two minor injuries.

She says the Western Jet Foil site is now open again.

Several hundred asylum seekers were relocated to Manston, she says. She says Robert Jenrick, the immigration minister, visited Manston yesterday, and she will visit herself soon, she says.

She says when many people arrive quickly, it is not possible to procure 1,000 beds at short notice.

She says she is looking at “all available options” to overcome the problems with supply. She says she will oversee this personally.

Updated

Braverman to take questions from MPs about Manston migration centre crisis

Suella Braverman, the home secretary, is due to make a Commons statement about the Manston migration centre crisis. Yvette Cooper, her Labour opposite number, will respond, and then other MPs will get to ask questions, for about an hour.

The statement will also cover the petrol bomb attack on the Western Jet Foil immigration centre in Dover. It is not officially meant to cover the events leading up to Braverman’s resignation from Liz Truss’s government, which Braverman covered in a letter published today, but it is likely that questions will cover this topic too – not least because Braverman stayed away when an urgent question on this topic was tabled last week.

Updated

Caroline Nokes, the Conservative MP and a former immigration minister, told GB News the asylum system seemed to be in “absolute chaos”, and the taxpayer could end up losing out because of the overcrowding at Manston. She explained:

I am horrified … This creates an absolute legal minefield for the government that is going to end up costing them more money, and there are some estimates that every single one of those migrants who has been kept in Manston for longer than is absolutely necessary could be entitled to £5-6,000 worth of compensation, whether they are ultimately deemed to be an asylum seeker or not. So that’s going to be expensive for us, the taxpayer …

This begins to look like a system in absolute chaos. And ultimately it’s going to be the individual asylum seekers who suffer, the British taxpayer who suffers, and the Home Office’s reputation for dealing with people in a fair and even-handed manner is going to be absolutely in tatters.

Updated

Rishi Sunak’s decision to appoint Maria Caulfield as minister for women in his reshuffle has caused controversy because of her voting record on abortion issues. In an appearance on the BBC’s Politics Live today, Caulfield defended her decision to vote against buffer zones outside abortion clinics. She said:

For me, the definition of what’s harassment is open to interpretation. That’s my concern – [that] someone who’s going up to, maybe, comfort someone who’s upset or distressed could be accused of harassment and could face six months in jail.

Caulfield said that, as a minister, she would be bound by the parliamentary vote in favour of buffer zones. She said that in her previous role as a health minister she had supported pro-abortion policies. Labelling someone as “anti-women” or “anti-choice” on the basis of particular votes was wrong, she claimed. She also insisted that she was entitled to take a personal view on these matters.

Adam Bienkov from Byline Times has posted the clip.

The Minister for Women says people accused of harassing people outside abortion clinics may be just trying to "comfort" them. pic.twitter.com/eRzAEH1quD

— Adam Bienkov (@AdamBienkov) October 31, 2022

Updated

Yvette Cooper says Braverman's letter shows why reappointing her home secretary was 'irresponsible'

We have got about an hour to wait until Suella Braverman faces MPs to take questions on the situation at the Manston asylum processing centre. Ahead of her appearance, Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, released this statement about the letter released today’s from Braverman about the events that led to her resignation two weeks ago. Cooper said:

This letter fails to answer all the serious questions about the home secretary’s irresponsible conduct and shows that neither she nor the prime minister recognise the gravity of these issues.

The home secretary has now admitted she sent government documents to her personal phone six times in 43 days - that’s once in every week she was in the post.

There are still significant inconsistencies in the information in this letter and her original resignation letter. There are also still no answers about alleged security breaches and leak investigations while she was attorney general or about whether the prime minister ignored the cabinet secretary’s advice in reappointing her just six days after she was forced to resign.

It is also astonishing that as home secretary in charge of national security and former attorney general she has therefore needed to seek an additional briefing on “what constitutes appropriate use of government and personal IT”.

This therefore leaves more unanswered questions, more confusion and more chaos from the home secretary and the government. It shows why Rishi Sunak was so irresponsible in reappointing her to her post.

Yvette Cooper.
Yvette Cooper. Photograph: Aaron Chown/PA

Updated

Rishi Sunak with his wife, Akshata Murty, and their dog Nova as they posed for a photographs with volunteers from the Royal British Legion outside No 10 earlier today.
Rishi Sunak with his wife, Akshata Murty, and their dog Nova as they posed for a photographs with volunteers from the Royal British Legion outside No 10 earlier today. Photograph: Henry Nicholls/Reuters

Mel Stride, the new work and pensions secretary, was asked during DWP questions in the Commons about a story in the Mirror saying that 10 years ago he wrote an article for ConservativeHome saying the government should consider relaxing maternity rights.

In response to a question from Labour’s Mike Amesbury, who asked if Stride still agreed with his statement that “cutting maternity rights will be good for business”, Stride replied: “Given that I never made that statement, then I don’t agree.”

As the Mirror’s John Stevens points out, even if Stride did not use the precise words in Amesbury’s question, the Labour MP was summing up accurately the thrust of the article.

Work & Pensions Secretary Mel Stride just told MPs he “never” said “cutting maternity rights would be good for business”

So what is this??? pic.twitter.com/mZ5r9Bidgc

— John Stevens (@johnestevens) October 31, 2022

Stride: "There have though been some notable examples of countries rowing back in this area in recent years...

"If we want to provide a massive shot in the arm for British business... I would hope that we could seriously consider following their example"

— John Stevens (@johnestevens) October 31, 2022

How Tory MP Andrew Percy reprimanded Braverman for her response to mistake involving government 'leak'

One of the Tories very critical of Suella Braverman over the “leaked” government document was Andrew Percy. A member of his staff received the document by accident and, in her letter today, Braverman quotes the email that he sent her about the mistake. Percy represents Brigg and Goole, covering Lincolnshire and Yorkshire, and he voted leave in 2016. He is not one of the Conservative backbenchers most opposed to Braverman ideologically. But he was angry that Braverman made the mistake and then just asked the person who receive the email in error to delete it. In his email Percy said:

I am really not sure that government documents should be being shared with members of your former campaign team via gmail.

Can you tell me what the ministerial code says on this and what the processes are in the Home Office for the sharing of sensitive government documents via gmail.

Simply asking my team to delete this email and ignore it is not an acceptable response to what appears, on the face of it, to be a potentially serious breach of security.

I am considering a point of order on this issue and have raised it with the chief whip.

I hope an explanation will be forthcoming. You are nominally in charge of the security of this nation, we have received many warnings even as lowly backbenchers about cyber-security.

Andrew Percy.
Andrew Percy. Photograph: Christopher Thomond/The Guardian

Updated

I have amended the post at 12.33pm to make it clear that in her letter Suella Braverman discloses that there were seven occasions when official documents were sent to her personal email. On six occasions between 15 September and 16 October she sent documents from her government email account to her personal email account. The seventh occasion, on 19 October, was the one that led to her resignation. But on that day it was her special adviser who sent the document to her personal email, because Braverman was in a car and only had her personal phone with her, with her personal email on it, and not her departmental phone, with her government email account. It was Braverman herself who then forwarded that email to Sir John Hayes.

In the Sunday Times yesterday Harry Yorke and Tim Shipman said that they had been told by five sources that Suella Braverman was told she needed to authorise alternative accommodation for the asylum seekers at Manston because of the overcrowding problem there. Braverman resisted that advice.

Not to be outdone, Alex Wickham from Bloomberg says he has six sources for the same story.

** NEW: It was Suella Braverman who made the decision to stop booking hotels for Manston migrants, according to six current and former senior govt sources **

** This led to unlawful detentions and was a ministerial code breach, two senior sources said **https://t.co/4miO6mwoV4

— Alex Wickham (@alexwickham) October 31, 2022

What is perhaps significant about this is not the central claim – that Braverman was to blame for the decision not to alleviate overcrowding at Manston – because this has not changed since it was first reported by the Times on Saturday. Instead, the key point now seems to be that all and sundry in Whitehall are briefing against her.

Here are more tweets from Wickham.

On taking office Braverman stopped the hotels policy due to the cost, per six sources

This despite legal advice that doing so would mean longer stays at Manston that would be against the law. Manston is a temporary triage centre for max 24 hour stayshttps://t.co/4miO6mwoV4

— Alex Wickham (@alexwickham) October 31, 2022

Former home office minister Tom Pursglove privately warned this was breaking the law and protested internally, according to people familiar

And what about this?

Pursglove was removed from the home office when Sunak reappointed Braverman last week………https://t.co/4miO6mwoV4

— Alex Wickham (@alexwickham) October 31, 2022

When Grant Shapps briefly became home sec, he was made aware that under Braverman the numbers at Manston had gone from 1,600 to 3,000+ in weeks

He immediately reversed the hotels ban

Home Office officials worked through the night to book roomshttps://t.co/4miO6mwoV4

— Alex Wickham (@alexwickham) October 31, 2022

These are from ITV’s Robert Peston.

PS Source close to Priti Patel insists she was signing off hotel accommodation all through summer. “No matter how unpalatable it was she always did it because not to do so would have breeches statutory duties…

— Robert Peston (@Peston) October 31, 2022

“We never breached statutory duties”. So the big question for Braverman is whether she has breached statutory duties.

— Robert Peston (@Peston) October 31, 2022

And this is from the BBC’s Nick Eardley.

Sources who are familiar with the process argue situation under Ms Braverman was extraordinary and calls into question her position

Home Office say Ms Braverman has taken “urgent decisions” https://t.co/9x5W73Npo5 https://t.co/HqQnClf1vR

— Nick Eardley (@nickeardleybbc) October 31, 2022

Some of the briefing against Braverman seems to be coming not just from officials, but from other Tories. This may be significant because ultimately what matters when a minister is fighting to keep their job is not so much what they did wrong, but how much support they have from within their party.

Sir David Normington, a former permanent secretary at the Home Office, told the World at One on Radio 4 that, if Suella Braverman had deliberately decided not to book hotels to address overcrowding at Manston, that could be another breach of the ministerial code. He said:

If it was deliberate, it’s a very serious matter. It’s potentially another breach of the ministerial code because home secretaries, ministers, have to obey the law.

They mustn’t knowingly disobey or break the law. It’s a serious matter but we don’t know the facts and we will hear from the home secretary this afternoon.

Normington said he was certain she would have been given advice by officials that she and the Home Office must abide by the law.

No 10 rejects claim Home Office deliberately allowed situation at Manston immigration centre to deteriorate

Here is a full summary of the news lines from the Downing Street lobby briefing.

  • Downing Street rejected the claim that the Home Office deliberately allowed the situation at the Manston immigration centre to deteriorate by not finding hotel accommodation for asylum seekers. The Tory MP Sir Roger Gale floated this theory this morning. (See 9.24am.) Asked if Gale was right, the PM’s spokesperson said that was not his understanding. The spokesperson went on:

I think obviously there is significant pressure being placed on accommodation facilities with the high number of crossings we are seeing and it remains a significant challenge to provide the right sort of accommodation, and also indeed to fulfil our legal duty to ensure people are not made destitute. There is a large amount of work being done by the Home Office to secure further accommodation as we speak.

  • The spokesperson claimed that when Rishi Sunak told MPs last week that Suella Braverman “raised the matter” of the mistake that led to her resignation herself, Sunak meant she raised it in her meeting with him – not that she was the first to alert No 10 of the error. (See 1.29pm.)

  • The spokesperson said the information “leaked” by Braverman was not market sensitive – even though at the time Downing Street sources claimed it was. (See 1.40pm.)

  • The spokesperson confirmed that Sunak may attend the Cop27 summit in Egypt. He said whether or not Sunak attended would depend on how well work on the autumn statement was progressing. But “substantial progress” is being made on that, the spokesperson said.

  • The spokesperson denied reports that No 10 imposed a “news blackout” on the revelation that Liz Truss had had her phone hacked when she was foreign secretary. The spokesperson said that was not a correct characterisation because they never commented on security issues like this anyway.

  • The spokesperson could not say what Rishi Sunak thought of Mark Spencer’s “little man in China” comment, saying he had not raised it with him. (See 10.53am.)

Updated

No 10 admits information 'leaked' by Braverman was not market sensitive – contradicting what government sources said at time

As my colleague Pippa Crerar reports, on the day Suella Braverman resigned, journalists were told by No 10 sources that the official information she had emailed to Tories who were not members of the government was market sensitive. This came from sources loyal to Liz Truss, and it made Braverman’s offence seem particularly serious.

On the day Braverman was sacked as Home Secretary, lobby colleagues - myself included - were briefed by No 10 that she had leaked market sensitive information. It was widely reported as fact. Yet Downing Street denying that today. 🧐

— Pippa Crerar (@PippaCrerar) October 31, 2022

In her account today, Braverman says the document that she passed on “did not contain any market-sensitive data as all the data contained in the document was already in the public domain”.

At the lobby briefing today the prime minister’s spokesperson backed the Braverman version. He said his understanding was that the document “wasn’t in any way market sensitive”.

Asked why journalists were told on the day by No 10 sources that the information was market sensitive, the spokesperson replied: “I can’t comment on any source briefings you might have had around this.”

Updated

At PMQs last week, when asked about the “leak” of information that led to Suella Braverman’s resignation, Rishi Sunak said: “She made an error of judgment, but she recognised that, she raised the matter and she accepted her mistake.”

It is now clear that Braverman only raised the matter with Downing Street after Wendy Morton, the chief whip, had already been told about what happened. Morton told Liz Truss, the then prime minister, Braverman says in her letter released today.

At the Downing Street lobby briefing this morning the PM’s spokesperson said that, when Sunak said Braverman had “raised the matter”, he meant that she had raised it with him when he met her to reappoint her as home secretary.

My colleague Pippa Crerar says this account of what Sunak actually meant by his words at PMQs is hard to believe.

No 10 suggests that when Rishi Sunak said at PMQs that Suella Braverman “raised the matter and accepted her mistake” the PM meant when they discussed getting her old job back, rather than when she resigned. Stretches credulity.

— Pippa Crerar (@PippaCrerar) October 31, 2022

How Braverman's new account of her resignation undermines original claim she reported mistake at first opportunity

When Suella Braverman resigned as home secretary just under two weeks ago, she claimed in her open letter to Liz Truss, the then prime minister, that as soon as she realised the mistake she had made in sending a government document to a colleague, she reported it. She said:

Earlier today, l sent an official document from my personal email to a trusted parliamentary colleague as part of policy engagement, and with the aim of garnering support for government policy on migration.

This constitutes a technical infringement of the rules. As you know, the document was a draft written ministerial statement about migration, due for publication imminently. Much of it had already been briefed to MPs. Nevertheless it is right for me to go.

As soon as l realised my mistake, I rapidly reported this on official channels, and informed the cabinet secretary.

It is now clear, from reading her much more detailed account of what happened, that her original version of what happened was misleading in at least two ways.

First, the original letter implies that she resigned because she passed a government document (the draft text of a written ministerial statement that had not been published) to Sir John Hayes, a Tory MP who is a close political ally of Braverman. But if Hayes had been the only person to receive the document, it is likely that no one would have ever found out. As Braverman admits in her letter today, she was only found out because of a second mistake; she copied in the wrong person, with the result the email went to another MP, not Hayes’s secretary.

Second, her new account casts doubt on the claim that she reported the mistake “rapidly”. Braverman said that she sent the email at 7.25am and realised at 10am that it went to the wrong person in error (because they sent a reply at 8.34am). She says her first response was to reply to that person at 10.02am asking them to ignore the message and delete it. She says she then attended a Home Office meeting for about an hour, and then went to the Commons to meet two constituents. At 11.50am, in the Commons, she met the chief whip, Wendy Morton, who already knew about the mistake, and the Tory MP Andrew Percy, who said that a member of his staff had received the email in error. Percy told Morton because he thought that potentially this was a serious breach of security. Braveman says at this point she decided not to attend PMQs as planned and to instead return to her office to report the error.

In her original account Braverman implies that she decided to report the matter to the cabinet secretary. In her account today Braverman says that she raised the matter with her private secretary, and asked for advice on what she should do. She says the private secretary then discussed it with the permanent secretary, and then, with his agreement, informed the cabinet secretary’s private office.

Updated

We will probably not get the Suella Braverman statement in the Commons until about 5.15pm. That is because we’re getting a UQ on the harassment of women in the submarine service, and a statement on Ukraine first.

🚨 1 UQ and 2 Statements Today from 3:30pm:

1. UQ to MoD Secretary on conduct towards women in the Royal Navy

2. Foreign Secretary @JamesCleverly on Ukraine

3. Home Secretary @SuellaBraverman on asylum processing centres

— Labour Whips (@labourwhips) October 31, 2022

Updated

How Braverman justifies incidents where she sent government documents to her personal email account

In her letter Suella Braverman, the home secretary, says that she sent government documents to her personal email address six times in her first stint as home secretary before the seventh incident, which led to her resignation. (See 12.05pm.) She accepts that government rules say personal IT devices should generally not be used for government business of any classification. But she says that she only used her personal email to send government information on to someone outside the government on one occasion, on the 19 October (the incident that led to her resignation). She says that the other occasions she was sending documents to her personal email account so that she could read them during virtual meetings. This was justified, she says. She explains:

As I was joining the Home Office meetings virtually and occasionally while in transit – via MS Teams and where I would be looking into the camera and visible on screen – on my government-issued phone, I was therefore of course unable to simultaneously read the necessary official documents on the same screen of the same mobile device. It was not possible to use a single device to conduct the meetings and read the documents at the same time. Therefore, I had occasionally and exceptionally emailed them to my personal email account so that I could read the documents in order to conduct essential government business. In all of these incidents, it was more practicable to use my personal phone to read the documents and was within permitted use; such use of my personal IT was reasonable and carried out in the public interest in order to enable me to do my job.

She also says that none of these documents was marked secret or top secret, and that no other person had access to her personal email account.

Updated

Braverman expected to make statement to MPs about her original resignation and situation at Manston immigration centre

Suella Braverman, the home secretary, is expected to make a statement to MPs this afternoon, according to official sources. It will cover the situation at the Manston migration centre, and the “leak” of government information that led to her resignation as home secretary under Liz Truss (before she was reinstated by Rishi Sunak when he became PM).

Updated

The Braverman letter also includes an appendix giving details of the six occasions on which she sent government papers to her personal email address. (See 12.05pm.)

Appendix from Braverman letter
Appendix from Braverman letter. Photograph: Home Office

Updated

Braverman admits that as home secretary she sent official documents to her personal email address six times

Suella Braverman has admitted that she sent official governments from her government email account to her personal email address six times from her appointment as home secretary on 6 September to 19 October, when she resigned from Liz Truss’s government. She made the disclosure in a letter she has sent this morning to Dame Diana Johnson, the Labour MP who chairs the Commons home affairs committee.

Braverman says:

Following my referral and subsequent resignation, the Home Office conducted a review of my use of personal email and verified the above sequence of events. The review also identified that within the period between 6th September and 19th October, I had sent official documents from my government email to my personal email address on six occasions. The review confirmed that all of these occasions occurred in circumstances when I was conducting Home Office meetings virtually or related to public lines to take in interviews. Some of these meetings had been hastily arranged in response to urgent operational matters relating to Home Office priorities. The review also confirmed that on no other occasions had my special adviser emailed my personal account in relation to official business.

I will post more from the seven-page letter shortly.

Updated

Priti Patel did not block migrants from Manston being moved to hotel accommodation, allies say

Priti Patel signed off on hotel accommodation for asylum seekers whenever it was required, her allies have told PA Media. Echoing a briefing given to Danny Shaw earlier (see 9.41am), PA Media says:

A source close to Patel told the PA news agency: “There was never any overcrowding [at the Manston centre] when she was there. What would happen was if it got to the point where people were getting worried about conditions we would sign off on more hotels.”

Despite the political difficulties, the cost to the taxpayer and the potential for a media backlash, Patel agreed to hotels because “it was the right thing to do”.

Another source close to the former home secretary said it had been “business as usual” right up until the point she resigned when Liz Truss became prime minister.

Updated

UK-backed battery firm Britishvolt considers entering administration

The UK government-backed battery startup Britishvolt is considering entering administration with the potential loss of almost 300 jobs after it struggled to find investors willing to fund its effort to build a giant £3.8bn “gigafactory” in north-east England. As my colleague Jasper Jolly reports, the firm, which was set up less than three years ago, was championed by Boris Johnson when he was prime minister.

Fantastic news that EV battery pioneer @BritishvoltUK will build a Gigafactory in Northumberland, creating thousands of jobs in our industrial heartlands and boosting electric vehicle production as part of our Green Industrial Revolution. https://t.co/l7Uhiii9fb

— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) January 21, 2022

You can read Jasper’s story in full here.

There is speculation that a more established manufacturer could take over the Britishvolt site in Northumberland.

The Conservative MP Natalie Elphicke, who represents Dover, told Talk TV this morning that she thought the government needed an entirely new approach to tackling the problem created by people crossing the Channel in small boats. She said:

The small boats crisis is clearly out of control and an entirely fresh approach is now needed. What’s been happening is simply not working, because every single attempt to get on top of this is delayed or thwarted by a rag bag of people who seem to want open borders and don’t seem to want us to get a grip on this particular situation.

We’ve seen people object to absolutely everything, object to the new laws coming through, object to any agreements put in place, object to all of the efforts of the government to try and tackle this issue. That’s really not on because it puts peoples’ lives at risk crossing the Channel, and it also results in this uncontrolled amount of people arriving.

One person who seems to agree with Elphicke is Kevin Saunders, a former chief immigration officer for the UK Border Force. He told the Today programme this morning that he favoured addressing the problem by putting asylum seekers on a cruise ship in international waters in the Channel and processing their applications there. He said:

I would put a cruise liner in the middle of the Channel and put all asylum seekers on that, put it in international waters so they can’t claim asylum, because it’s not the UK.

This has been mooted before but was kicked into the long grass, but I think it’s worth revisiting.

Saunders said a cruise liner would have proper facilities and everything that would be needed.

Northern Ireland power-sharing system not fit for purpose, says Irish PM

Micheál Martin, the taoiseach (Irish PM), has said the unique system of sharing power between unionists and nationalists in Northern Ireland is no longer fit for purpose and should be reviewed. My colleague Lisa O’Carroll has the story here.

Farming minister Mark Spencer condemned by Labour MPs for 'little man in China' slur

For much of his government career Mark Spencer has been a whip (he ended up chief whip), and whips almost never give interviews to the media. Even when he was leader of the Commons, in the final months of the Boris Johnson era, Downing Street rarely put him up for interviews. And today it became obvious why, because in one of his appearances he used language with racist overtones when talking about the Chinese.

Referring to the story about Liz Truss having her phone hacked when she was foreign secretary, he said:

We all talk on personal phones, don’t we, you know? I ring my wife, maybe there’s some little man in China listening to the conversations between me and my wife.

But, you know, you’ve just got to be careful about what information you use on which phone and you get a lot of help and support from the security services on that.

This prompted protests from Labour MPs. This is from Labour’s Sarah Owen, who has Chinese ancestry and who is chair of East and South East Asians for Labour.

Mark Spencer once again showing his ignorance, on many levels. https://t.co/Ysa12JHxWR

— Sarah Owen MP (@SarahOwen_) October 31, 2022

Owen, a shadow local government minister, told HuffPost UK:

Clearly government ministers like Mark Spencer do not understand the severity of the now repeated Conservative security breaches and that no amount of deflecting, even by throwing out the crass and archaic ‘little Chinese man’ trope, will distract us from the fact the PM chose to re-hire Braverman just six days after a ministerial code violation to one of the most sensitive positions of state.

Afzal Khan, a shadow justice minister, said Spencer’s language was “outrageous”.

Outrageous and reckless language used here.

Given Mark Spencer’s history of Islamophobia, really makes you wonder why he was ever promoted.

Is this the integrity you promised @RishiSunak? https://t.co/YiN2nViWcQ

— Afzal Khan MP (@Afzal4Gorton) October 31, 2022

And this is from Labour’s Chris Bryant.

“Little man”? Honestly? https://t.co/DCXBU2qfiX

— Chris Bryant (@RhonddaBryant) October 31, 2022

As Sunder Katwala, head of British Future, a thinktank focusing on race and identity issues, points out, Spencer was also the MP alleged to told the Tory MP Nusrat Ghani that she was sacked as a minister because colleagues had an issue with her Muslim faith. Spencer said the allegation was “completely false”, but a report into what happened has not been published.

Mark Spencer (as chief whip) was the central figure in Nus Ghani's complaint that discriminatory language was used in dismissing her. Lord Geidt completed a report into that allegation, which has not been published. https://t.co/7NPO2et87t

— Sunder Katwala (@sundersays) October 31, 2022

Sunak may attend Cop27 climate summit after all, despite originally ruling out going, minister says

Last week Downing Street said that Rishi Sunak would not be attending the Cop27 climate summit in Egypt. Sunak’s spokesperson said he had “other pressing domestic commitments”.

But now there has been a rethink, and Sunak is open to the idea of attending after all. The Financial Times and the i reported this overnight, and during his interview round this morning Mark Spencer, the farming minister, confirmed that Sunak might be going himself. He told Sky News that Sunak would attend “if he’s got time”. He said:

I think the prime minister has a huge inbox. He’s come into office, he’s got an inbox which is full to the brim. Clearly he wants to concentrate on the financial statement and that’s what he’s doing.

But if he’s able to get through... all of that, you know, Cop is very important. It’s very important to the government, it’s important to our future, so we’ll send out senior ministers, but that’s yet to be decided who’s going to go.

Spencer also insisted that any decision by Sunak to attend would not be influenced by reports that Boris Johnson is going. Spencer told LBC:

I don’t think that’s a consideration. I think, actually, he’ll be looking at how much he’s got in his inbox.

But I think the fact that Boris is thinking of going is a demonstration of how seriously the Conservative party and the Conservative government takes these things.

Mark Spencer.
Mark Spencer. Photograph: Niklas Halle’n/AFP/Getty Images

Updated

Mark Spencer, the farming minister, was doing the interview round on behalf of No 10 this morning. As the Telegraph reports, in an interview with Sky News Spencer suggested that Suella Braverman resisted moving asylum seekers from Manston into hotels because she wanted to prioritise processing their applications. Asked about reports that she blocked the transfer of people into hotels (see 9.24am), Spencer said:

We’ve got to try and make sure that those who are genuine asylum seekers – and there are safe routes of course to get here through a safe system – she wants to process them very quickly, and work out who we need to help protect, and who we need to return.

Updated

Conditions at Manston migrant centre 'not acceptable', says prisons inspector

Charlie Taylor, the chief inspector of prisons (whose inspectorate also covers immigration detention and removal centres), told the Today programme this morning that his team would be publishing a report on Manston tomorrow, and that it would say conditions there are unacceptable. He said:

We were absolutely clear in our report that’s coming out tomorrow that the Home Office and contractors need to get a grip, they need to speed up the processing of migrants, they need to make suitable provisions so people can be moved off site as quickly as possible and housed in humane and decent conditions.

The facilities are not set up for people to be staying. It’s not a residential facility. It’s a short-term holding facility, which is supposed to process people through.

So the danger is if people are spending long periods of time in what are very cramped conditions without suitable accommodation, that’s just not acceptable.

Updated

According to Danny Shaw, the BBC’s former home affairs correspondent, sources briefing on behalf of Priti Patel, the former home secretary, say she is not to blame for the overcrowding at Manston.

NEW A source close to @pritipatel says “there was never any overcrowding at Manston” when she was Home Secretary.

“She did all she could to keep the system moving and keep to our statutory duties,” says the source.

If correct, that puts the spotlight back on @SuellaBraverman

— Danny Shaw (@DannyShawNews) October 31, 2022

In his Today interview this morning the Tory MP Sir Roger Gale said that he thought the Home Office may have deliberately allowed the Manston centre to become overcrowded, although he said he was not sure whether the key decisions were taken by Patel or by Suella Braveman. (See 9.24am.)

Gale: 'This situation should never have been allowed to develop. And I’m not sure it hasn’t almost been developed deliberately'

Good morning. Has the Home Office deliberately allowed conditions at Manston, the processing centre in Kent for people who cross the Channel on small boats, to deteriorate to the extent that it is described as something of a hell hole? And is this related to the fact that Suella Braverman, the home secretary, is an avid enthusiast for policies that might deter people from seeking asylum in the UK in the first place?

This is a common view on the left, but this morning it was also floated by the Conservative MP Sir Roger Gale, whose North Thanet constituency covers Manston. Manston is meant to take a maximum of 1,600 people, who are supposed to stay for just 24 hours, but recently there have been 3,000 people there, some staying for as long as a month. And yesterday another 700 people were being taken there, following the petrol bomb attack on an immigration centre in Dover. My colleague Diane Taylor has a good article on conditions at Manston here.

In an interview on the Today programme Gale said that Manston was “overwhelmed” and that conditions there were “wholly unacceptable”. He said the catering and the medical facilities at the site were good, but that it was just far too overcrowded. He told the programme:

There are simply far too many people there and this situation should never have been allowed to develop. And I’m not sure that it hasn’t almost been developed deliberately.

Asked what he meant by that, he went on:

I was told that the Home Office was finding it very difficult to secure hotel accommodation. I now understand that this was a policy issue and a decision was taken not to book additional hotel space. Now that’s like driving a car down a motorway, seeing them motorway clear ahead, and then there’s a car crash, and then suddenly there’s a five-mile tailback. The car crash was the decision not to book more hotel space.

Gale said he thought the decision not to find more hotel accommodation for the people in Manson was taken by the home secretary, although he said he was not sure whether it was Suella Braverman, the current one, or Priti Patel, her main predecessor. (Grant Shapps was also in office very briefly.) Asked what the motive might be for a policy decision like this, Gale said he did not “want to go there”. But when Nick Robinson asked what he would think if ministers had allowed conditions to deteriorate to deter potential asylum seekers, Gale said he would find that “wholly unacceptable”. He also said he thought the government’s plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda was unacceptable.

There have been several reports saying Braverman did take decisions that allowed conditions at Manston to deteriorate. In the Times on Saturday Matt Dathan reported that “decisions made by Suella Braverman led directly to overcrowding and outbreaks of scabies and diphtheria at a migrant processing centre in Kent”. He wrote:

Multiple government sources who work on asylum accommodation said she had blocked the transfer of thousands of migrants detained at a processing centre at Manston airport to hotels during her first, six-week spell as home secretary.

Home Office officials warned her that she risked breaking the law by detaining people — including an Afghan family — for periods of up to 32 days at the centre.

In the Sunday Times Harry Yorke and Tim Shipman amplified the story, saying that Braverman’s decision could lead to the government losing a costly legal case. Yorke and Shipman wrote:

According to five sources, Braverman, 42, was also told that the legal breach needed to be resolved urgently by rehousing the asylum seekers in alternative accommodation.

Two sources said she was also warned by officials that the Home Office had no chance of defending a legal challenge and the matter could also result in a public inquiry if exposed.

A government source said: “The government is likely to be JR’d [judicially reviewed] and it’s likely that all of them would be granted asylum, so it’s going to achieve the exact opposite of what she wants. These people could also launch a class action against us and cost the taxpayer millions.”

In response, the Home Office says Braverman “has taken urgent decisions to alleviate issues at Manston and source alternative accommodation” and that she was right to consider “all available options”.

Gale, and the Labour party, want Braverman to answer questions about this in the Commons this afternoon. It is possible that the Speaker may grant an urgent question (UQ), or that the Home Office will offer a statement. But MPs are less likely to hear from Braverman herself. She has not been keen on defending her record himself – she is still facing questions about the leak scandal too – and she avoided the Commons on Wednesday and on Thursday last week, when UQs addressed to her were granted. Jeremy Quin, a Cabinet Office minister, answered the one about her resignation instead, and Robert Jenrick, the immigration minister, picked up the one about Manston.

Here is the agenda for the day.

9.30am: The Office for National Statistics publishes new data on the impact of Covid on the economy.

10am: The Covid inquiry holds a preliminary hearing (involving lawyers, not witnesses) about the procedure for module 2 of the inquiry, which will cover government decision making in relation to the pandemic.

11.30am: Downing Street holds a lobby briefing.

2.30pm: Mel Stride, the new work and pensions secretary, takes questions in the Commons.

I try to monitor the comments below the line (BTL) but it is impossible to read them all. If you have a direct question, do include “Andrew” in it somewhere and I’m more likely to find it. I do try to answer questions, and if they are of general interest, I will post the question and reply above the line (ATL), although I can’t promise to do this for everyone.

If you want to attract my attention quickly, it is probably better to use Twitter. I’m on @AndrewSparrow.

Alternatively, you can email me at andrew.sparrow@theguardian.com

Updated

Contributor

Andrew Sparrow

The GuardianTramp

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