THE Attorney General, Suella Braverman, returned to Westminster on Tuesday, September 7, following six months of maternity leave.
It comes after the birth of her second child earlier this year and is part of a phased return to work due to conclude next week.
The Fareham MP was seen walking down Downing Street early yesterday morning to attend a face-to-face cabinet meeting in which the rise in national insurance tax was confirmed as part of a busy day of government briefings and debates.
Mrs Braverman’s return to parliamentary duties comes after she was designated an official ‘Minister on Leave’ from early March. That was enabled by new legislation rushed through Parliament and enacted in order to accommodate paid leave periods for expectant members. Without the Ministerial & Other Maternity Allowances Act 2021, she would have been forced to resign from her cabinet position in order to spend time with her new-born.
The ministerial leave began on March 2, just 13 months after Mrs Braverman became Attorney General in Boris Johnson’s first, February 2020, reshuffle.
Five days later, on March 7, she gave birth to her second child with husband Rael Braverman. The baby was named Gabriella and the local MP thanked her constituents for their best wishes.
Northampton North MP Michael Ellis had replaced the Fareham MP on a temporary basis as the Government’s legal advisor. He will now revert to his original position of Solicitor General, having been appointed to the role in July 2019.
But despite her spell of maternity leave, Fareham has still been represented in the Commons as Mrs Braverman has been voting using the proxy system, while her team dealt with policy, related casework, and monthly surgeries throughout a busy period.
A loyal Johnson ally, she re-joins the Commons at a crucial time for her party leader, who is trying to reset his government following easing of lockdown restrictions. Debates over the next 10 days are likely to include the extension of the Coronavirus Act 2020 for another six months, speculation – officially denied – of a firebreak lockdown in October, Universal Credit uplifts, an October 27 budget and fallout following the removal of troops from Afghanistan.
There is also media speculation of another cabinet reshuffle as the PM’s diary was cleared for Thursday, although it was denied by Downing Street and Mrs Braverman is not expected to change her position in any event.
While the Attorney General will get her say in key policy decisions, she will return at a time of controversy for the Government’s legal department, with sentencing reviews making headlines. For example, Opposition members have been calling for an urgent consideration of a high profile case, which has seen a student guilty of terrorist offences given a suspended sentence for two years.
Alongside this, Mrs Braverman will aim to use her professional experience as the PM looks to reform the legal system, including the Supreme Court, following the UK’s departure from the European Union back in January 2020.
Image taken in February 2020 – Day of first cabinet reshuffle