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James Cleverly’s rise to home secretary – as he replaces Suella Braverman in Rishi Sunak’s cabinet reshuffle and vows to stop the boats in his latest high-profile position


  • James Cleverly replaced Suella Braverman after she was sacked by Rishi Sunak
  • Within minutes, he said he was ‘absolutely committed to stopping the boats’ 

James Cleverly began his role as Home Secretary today by insisting he is ‘absolutely committed to stopping the boats’.

He made the pledge within minutes of swapping one great office of state for another to replace Suella Braverman after she was sacked by Rishi Sunak.

Sources close to the former foreign secretary said he wanted to remain in that role because it was ‘a job he loves’. But he ‘took one for the team’, as ex-prime minister David Cameron was parachuted into the Foreign Office to replace him.

Speaking outside the Home Office, Mr Cleverly said: ‘It’s been a huge privilege to serve as foreign secretary and in that time I worked very closely with my colleagues at the Home Office, cracking down on illegal migration, reducing the number of small boat arrivals… and now as the Home Secretary I’m absolutely committed to stopping the boats as we promised.’

Newly appointed Home Secretary James Cleverly leaves 10 Downing Street

Newly appointed Home Secretary James Cleverly leaves 10 Downing Street

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak speaks with James Cleverly as he is appointed as Home Secretary

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak speaks with James Cleverly as he is appointed as Home Secretary

James Cleverly began his role as Home Secretary by insisting he is 'absolutely committed to stopping the boats'

James Cleverly began his role as Home Secretary by insisting he is ‘absolutely committed to stopping the boats’

In a speech to staff at his new department, he said: ‘I hope that we get to a way of working together where we’re able to discharge the primary duty that we have, which is to protect the British people, to such an extent they forget we exist.’

He recognised people were most concerned about crime and illegal migration, adding: ‘If we’re not seen to be in control of our borders, it’s disconcerting for British people. So keeping those illegal arrivals numbers trending downwards is good.’

And Mr Cleverly vowed to defend civil servants against ‘armchair’ critics. 

‘You’re doing a really good job and sometimes it frustrates me that that isn’t creeping into the public consciousness,’ the Home Secretary said, according to a transcript of his remarks seen by the Mail.

‘I will back you and I will defend you. Even when you mess up, when we all mess up at times, I have no intention of throwing anyone under the bus. I have no intention of briefing against my officials, all I ask is that you return the favour.’

It marked a change of tone from predecessors Mrs Braverman and Priti Patel who complained that a ‘blob’ of Left-leaning civil servants blocked measures they wanted to introduce.

New British Foreign Secretary David Cameron departs 10 Downing Street

New British Foreign Secretary David Cameron departs 10 Downing Street

Cleverly made the pledge within minutes of swapping one great office of state for another to replace Suella Braverman after she was sacked by Rishi Sunak

Cleverly made the pledge within minutes of swapping one great office of state for another to replace Suella Braverman after she was sacked by Rishi Sunak

Alluding to unrest over the weekend during protests over the situation in the Middle East, he added that he was committed to ‘making sure that everybody in the UK feels safe and secure going about their daily business knowing that the Government is here to protect them’. 

However, in a clear sign that he will toe a softer line than Mrs Braverman, he chose not to repeat some of the language she has used in recent days to criticise the police.

Asked if he would distance himself from her rhetoric, he said: ‘I intend to do this job in the way that I feel best protects the British people and our interests.

‘I have had a very good conversation with the Prime Minister, who’s made it very clear that he wants us to deliver on our promises to stop the boats [and] to protect the British people.’

The reshuffle also saw many other dramatic moves, including former pensions minister Laura Trott being promoted to Chief Secretary to the Treasury.

Mr Cleverly’s first major challenge will come on Wednesday when the Supreme Court is due to rule on whether the Rwanda deportation plan for Channel migrants is legal. If it rules against the Government, the clamour to leave The European Convention on Human Rights will grow.

He has previously indicated he does not support leaving the ECHR. It means he may have to head up a series of tweaks to domestic legislation – the approach thought to be favoured by Mr Sunak – to try and get flights to Rwanda off the ground.

Another thorny issue for Mr Cleverly will be his opposition to plans for a migrant detention centre on an old RAF base in his Braintree constituency. 

The Home Office wants to house 1,700 asylum seekers at RAF Wethersfield, but a judicial review has been launched. 

The Brexiteer was appointed foreign secretary in September last year, after a two-month stint on education under Boris Johnson.

He was minister for Europe from February to July 2022 and a minister responsible for the Middle East and North Africa between 2020 and 2022. He was party chairman between 2019 and 2020.



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