Braverman And Williamson Appointments Make A Mockery Of Sunak’s ‘Integrity’ Pledge

Rishi Sunak could not have been clearer on the day he became prime minister.

“This government will have integrity, professionalism and accountability at every level,” he declared on the steps of Number 10. “Trust is earned – and I will earn yours.”

Less than two weeks later, those lofty ideals have already been sacrificed at the altar of political expediency.

One of Sunak’s first actions as PM was to re-appoint Suella Braverman as home secretary, just six days after she was forced to resign by Liz Truss for breaking the ministerial code.

The widely held belief at Westminster – not denied by Number 10 – is that the decision was part of a “grubby deal” to guarantee her support for Sunak’s Tory leadership bid at the expense of Boris Johnson.

So much for integrity, professionalism and accountability at every level.

And today, we knew it had confirmed that Sunak of bullying allegations made against Gavin Williamson for former chief whip Wendy Morton before he made him Cabinet Office minister.

Like Braverman, Williamson supported Sunak’s election campaign and – just like the home secretary I was rewarded with a seat round the cabinet table.

Despite the abusive nature of the text messages Williamson sent to Morton after he was blocked from attending the Queen’s funeral, Oliver Dowden this morning insisted that the prime minister retains full confidence in his colleague.

So much for integrity, professionalism and accountability at every level.

It is not surprising, however, that the PM’s actions have failed to match his rhetoric.

For all the talk of Tory unity, Sunak knows that he presides over a deeply divided party.

It will not have escaped his notice that Sir Jake Berry – a Johnson ally who Sunak sacked as party chairman – has made two deeply unhelpful interventions on both the Braverman and Sunak stories.

Meanwhile, Brandon Lewis, another minister who saw his cabinet career ended as soon as Sunak entered Number 10, chose today of all days to retweet a thread from June on why bullying should not be “an inevitable part of our political life”.

Bullying isn’t a harmless rite of passage or a part of the rough and tumble of school life. And it shouldn’t be an inevitable part of our political life either. (2/6)

— Brandon Lewis (@BrandonLewis) June 22, 2022

With his enemies lining up behind him, Sunak can ill afford to lose two of his supporters so soon into his premiership.

That’s why he is resisting calls for Williamson to be sacked, at least for now.

But the rows have taken the sheen off the new PM, and only served to further prove that his No10 honeymoon is well and truly over.

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