New attorney general wants to 'take back control' from courts
Suella Braverman says Brexit allows government to regain power from EU and judiciary
Suella Braverman, a passionate Brexiter who has threatened to “take back control” from an interfering judiciary, is Boris Johnson’s surprise appointment as attorney general – the government’s most senior legal adviser.
Two weeks ago, the MP for Fareham published a searing attack on human rights litigation and the overuse of judicial review challenges on the Conservative Home website; a political stance likely to have found favour with No 10 insiders.
Born and raised in north-west London, Braverman’s parents moved to the UK in the 1960s from Kenya and Mauritius.
After studying law at Cambridge University, the Sorbonne and New York City University, the 39-year-old’s professional and political advancement has been meteoric.
Braverman trained as a barrister in London, specialising in planning, judicial review and immigration cases. She was appointed to the attorney general’s Treasury panel and represented the government in hearings.
She won her south coast constituency seat in 2015, campaigned for Brexit and briefly became chair of the European Research Group of pro-Brexit MPs.
Rapidly promoted to ministerial positions, she began as parliamentary private secretary to Treasury ministers before becoming a junior minister at the former Department for Exiting the EU (DExEU), but resigned in November 2018 in protest at Theresa May’s proposed deal.
Braverman became embroiled in controversy early last year over her declaration that: “As Conservatives, we are engaged in a battle against cultural Marxism.” She dismissed allegations that the phrase was an “antisemitic trope”. The Board of Deputies of British Jews later said they had held discussions and described her as “clearly a good friend of the Jewish community”.
The Johnson loyalist told her local newspaper at the December election count that the result was “a great endorsement of Boris Johnson’s leadership – he’s got a very authentic manner when it comes to campaigning”.
As attorney general she will play a significant role in both the proposed royal commission on criminal justice and the more controversial constitution, democracy and rights commission which will examine the relationship between the courts and parliament.
In her Conservative Home article last month, Braverman wrote: “Restoring sovereignty to parliament after Brexit is one of the greatest prizes that awaits us. But not just from the EU. As we start this new chapter of our democratic story, our parliament must retrieve power ceded to another place – the courts … The political has been captured by the legal. Decisions of an executive, legislative and democratic nature have been assumed by our courts. Prorogation and the triggering of article 50 were merely the latest examples of a chronic and steady encroachment by the judges.
“The catalyst for this proliferation [of judicial review challenges] was the Human Rights Act. Parliament’s legitimacy is unrivalled and the reason why we must take back control, not just from the EU, but from the judiciary.”
In what was clearly a disapproving tweet, the Secret Barrister commented: “An entirely fitting attorney general for a Boris Johnson government.”
The barrister and former Conservative MP Anna Soubry similarly tweeted: “Genuine concern that as a hardline, no-deal Brexiteer with little experience [Braverman] will not undertake the important role of AG – which invariably means giving firm legal advice a Govt/PM doesn’t want to hear because it doesn’t suit them politically.”
Commenting on her appointment, Braverman said: “One of my first priorities is to continue the government’s work in rebuilding confidence in our justice system, particularly with victims.”
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