Grant Shapps: Government ‘in danger’ of lawbreaking at Manston
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Grant Shapps took an extraordinary swipe at Suella Braverman this morning as he said he was given given “clear advice” that the UK was “in danger” of breaking the law over migrant processing when he briefly took over as Home Secretary. And the Business Secretary also condemned expletive-laden text messages sent by Cabinet colleague Sir Gavin Williamson when he was a backbencher.
During an interview with Sky News, Mr Shapps said he was advised last month that Britain was “in danger” of breaking the law over its processing of migrants when he became Home Secretary for a week in between Ms Braverman departing under Liz Truss and being reinstated by Rishi Sunak.
It comes as the Home Secretary has been under pressure following claims of dangerously overcrowded conditions at Manston in Kent, where at one point as many as 4,000 people were being detained for weeks in a site intended to hold 1,600 for a matter of days.
Asked why he was keen to move migrants into hotels while he was in the role, Mr Shapps said: “Simply that we’ve got to be careful not to break the law ourselves by detaining people who are able to be outside of that – well, it’s not a detention centre, but a processing centre at Manston.
“So, really just a question of making sure that we were acting within the law. That’s something that the Home Secretary is continuing to do now.”
Pressed on whether that meant the Government was breaking the law previously, he said: “The advice I had was very clear that we were in danger of doing that if we weren’t acting.
“I did act during six days in the job and I know the Home Secretary has continued to act now as well.”
During the broadcast round, the Business Secretary also condemned Sir Gavin’s expletive-laden texts to the then chief whip Wendy Morton.
The Cabinet Office minister, who was a backbencher at the time, fumed that he had not been invited to the late Queen’s funeral in a series of messages in September.
Mr Shapps said Sir Gavin was not “right” to send the foul-mouthed texts to a Tory colleague.
He said: “I don’t think it was the right thing to do, to send messages like that. I see they must have been sent in a moment of frustration.
“I think, generally, it is the case that it’s much better to write things which you would not live to regret later.
“And especially with colleagues, writing things which are polite, even if you have a point of view to express, I think is not unreasonable.
“So, I don’t think he was right to send them. The Prime Minister said the same. I know that the party is going through a process looking at them at the moment.”
Rishi Sunak is under fire for bringing Sir Gavin back into the Government despite being warned that he was under investigation for allegedly bullying Ms Morton.
In an exchange of messages on September 13, Sir Gavin accused the then chief whip of using the death of the late monarch to “punish” senior MPs who were out of favour with Liz Truss’s administration.
Sir Gavin complained that it was “very poor” that privy councillors – senior politicians who formally advise the monarch – who “aren’t favoured” have been excluded from the state funeral at Westminster Abbey on September 19.
Ms Morton repeatedly denied his claims and insisted that the Government had been allocated an “extremely limited” number of tickets, most of which went to members of the Cabinet.
In the messages, obtained by The Sunday Times, Mr Williamson said: “Well certainly looks it which think is very s*** and perception becomes reality. Also don’t forget I know how this works so don’t puss me about.
“It’s very clear how you are going to treat a number of us which is very stupid and you are showing f*** all interest in pulling things together.
“Also this shows exactly how you have rigged it is is (sic) disgusting you are using her death to punish people who are just supportive, absolutely disgusting.
“Well let’s see how many more times you f*** us all over. There is a price for everything.”
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