Braverman says she never blocked hotel transfers – 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.

Key events

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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, referrring 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 cyber security, 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.)

Braverman claims ‘illegal immigration … out of control’

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.

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

Braverman says she never blocked hotel transfers – 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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.





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