‘My heroes are Churchill and Thatcher’: Attorney General Suella Braverman’s response to Northern Ireland Protocol question

The Government’s top law officer declared her love for Britain and named her heroes when challenged over the leak of Brexit legal advice.

By PA Reporter
Thursday, 26th May 2022, 3:04 pm

Attorney General Suella Braverman sidestepped a call from Labour to say if she played a role in the Northern Ireland Protocol briefings.

Instead, she began comparing herself to her Labour counterpart and told the Commons: “My heroes are Churchill and Thatcher, hers are Lenin and Corbyn.”

Shadow attorney general Emily Thornberry was left open-mouthed at the response and complained that Ms Braverman had failed to answer the question, with Deputy Speaker Dame Eleanor Laing intervening to remind MPs of the need to “stick to the specific subject of the question”.

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Attorney General Suella Braverman

The protocol is aimed at avoiding a hard border with Ireland but has created a series of economic barriers on Irish Sea trade.

The UK Government last week announced its intention to table legislation at Westminster that would override parts of the protocol without the approval of the EU, amid the ongoing power-sharing impasse at Stormont.

For Labour, Ms Thornberry told the Commons: “The Attorney General has said again today that there’s a long-standing convention that prevents her discussing either the fact or the content of her legal advice on the Northern Ireland Protocol, which makes it all the more remarkable that on Wednesday May 11 The Times newspaper and BBC Newsnight not only disclosed the fact of her legal advice but actually quoted from its contents.

“So, can I ask the Attorney General one very straightforward question, which only requires a yes or no answer: did she personally authorise the briefings to The Times and to Newsnight regarding her advice on the protocol, yes or no?”

Ms Braverman replied: “I take the convention incredibly seriously; it is a running thread through the integrity and robustness and the frankness with which law officers can provide advice.

“I don’t comment on media speculation and that is the Government’s line.”

She went on to defend the Government’s proposals, before adding: “There are big differences between (Ms Thornberry) and myself and I’m very disappointed at the line of attack that she is taking.

“I love the United Kingdom; the right honourable lady is embarrassed by our flag.

“I’m proud of the leadership the United Kingdom has demonstrated, and the right honourable lady wants us to be run by Brussels and wants to scrap Trident.

“My heroes are Churchill and Thatcher, hers are Lenin and Corbyn.”

In 2014, Ms Thornberry was sacked from the Labour frontbench for a tweet apparently sneering at a white van driver’s display of the cross of St George on his house months after the World Cup.

Earlier, DUP MP Ian Paisley (North Antrim) said the Government is “well within its rights” to bring forward legislation to “protect the integrity” of the UK’s single economic market and the union.

He said: “Could the Attorney General take the opportunity today at the despatch box to spell out to the misinformed US Congress delegation visiting Northern Ireland that defending and upholding and protecting the union is consistent with the New Decade, New Approach agreement and consistent with the Belfast Agreement?”

Mr Paisley asked the Government to bring forward legislation before the summer recess in July.

Ms Braverman replied: “The Bill that is proposed will take vital steps to protect the integrity of the United Kingdom, our precious union and protect peace, which is cemented by the Belfast Agreement.”

She said the proposals are “consistent” with the Belfast Agreement and Northern Ireland’s “place within the United Kingdom”, adding: “I urge all members here and parliamentarians abroad to support them.”