In the News

Should Suella Braverman resign?

Mike McCartney

4th November 2022

The Home Secretary's comments regarding asylum seekers divide opinion

Let's look at the constitutional aspect first, and a bit of background on what individual ministerial entails (IMR).

  • A feature of parliamentary government is that the executive is drawn from the legislature and according to the constitution is directly answerable to it. The ministerial 'highway code' is laid out in the ministerial code of conduct, which is issued to all ministers.
  • A personal mistake is by far the most common reason for ministers to resign, but some ministers weather the media storm better than others. In the 1990s it seemed like the Tories had set up a ministerial resignation production line (Mellor, Mates, Yeo, Brown, Hughes, Aitken), but after New Labour took office it quickly became apparent that being whiter than white was a promise that would be difficult to fulfil. In 1998 the Welsh Secretary, Ron Davies, resigned after a ‘moment of madness’ on Clapham Common. Under the Con-Lib coalition, Treasury Minister David Laws was first to fall on his sword following revelations about claiming housing expenses while sharing a house with his male partner.
  • It is very rare for a minister to resign as a result of an error of policy or administration, but we can point to the resignation of Estelle Morris over the A levels fiasco in 2002 as an example. But one that has hardly set a precedent.

It is far more likely that ministers will cling on to jobs, until the level of sustained media pressure is such that it is untenable for the Prime Minister to provide their backing. So, the principle of IMR can be seen as something of a constitutional fiction.

Watch the video clip below of Braverman's speech to the Commons with regards to asylum seekers and determine for yourself if you think that her rhetoric was irresponsible given her position.

Mike McCartney

Mike is an experienced A-Level Politics teacher, author and examiner.

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