Suella Braverman, a passionate Brexiteer 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 39-year-old MP published a searing attack on human rights litigation and overuse of judicial review challenges for the Conservative Home website – a political stance likely to have found favour with No 10 insiders.
Braverman was born and brought up in north-west London; her parents arrived in the UK in the 1960s from from Kenya and Mauritius.
After studying law at Cambridge University, the Sorbonne and New York City University, her professional and political advancement has been meteoric.
She trained as a barrister in London, specialising in planning, judicial review and immigration cases. She was appointed to the attorney general’s Treasury panel, representing the government in hearings.
In 2015, she was elected MP for the south coast constituency of Fareham. She campaigned for Brexit and briefly became chair of the European Research Group of pro-Brexit MPs.
Rapidly promoted to ministerial positions, she began as PPS to Treasury ministers before becoming a junior minister at the former Department for Exiting the EU (DExEU). She resigned in November 2018 in protest at Theresa May’s proposed deal.
She became embroiled in controversy early last year over her declaration that: “As Conservatives, we are engaged in a battle against cultural marxism…” Braverman dismissed allegations that the phrase was an “anti-semitic 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”.
A Johnson loyalist, Braverman 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 the government’s most senior legal adviser, 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 hard line 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.”