Copyright: Simon Walker / HM Treasury

Sunak dismisses Braverman deal reports: ‘Of course you have conversations in a leadership election’

The prime minister has dismissed reports that he and Suella Braverman formulated a “deal” in return for her support in the October 2022 Conservative leadership election.

It comes as the former home secretary continues to reference such an agreement, insisting in her letter to the prime minister after her unceremonious sacking earlier this month: “I agreed to support you because of the firm assurances you gave me on key policy priorities”. 

Braverman’s support in last October’s leadership election was seen as crucial to Rishi Sunak’s victory, but her letter suggested she only agreed to serve as home secretary on “certain conditions”.

The four areas she highlighted in her “departure” letter were:

  • Reduce overall legal migration as set out in the 2019 manifesto through, inter alia, reforming the international students route and increasing salary thresholds on work visas;
  • Include specific ‘notwithstanding clauses’ into new legislation to stop the boats, i.e. exclude the operation of the European Convention on Human Rights, Human Rights Act and other international law that had thus far obstructed progress on this issue;
  • Deliver the Northern Ireland Protocol and Retained EU Law Bills in their then existing form and timetable;
  • Issue unequivocal statutory guidance to schools that protects biological sex, safeguards single sex spaces, and empowers parents to know what is being taught to their children.

In comments to the Mail on Sunday, Rishi Sunak played down the claims that Braverman had struck a deal with him to lend his leadership candidacy her support in exchange for key promises.

“Of course you have conversations with people when you are in a leadership election and not just Suella”, Sunak said.

Asked about whether she could produce proof of a deal, he said: “That’s a question for her. I’m getting on with actually delivering things”.

The Telegraph is today reporting the contents of such an arrangement, with the details suggesting Sunak agreed to a four-point migration plan in a bid to win Braverman’s support last year. 

Chief among them, the Telegraph reports, was a pledge to raise the minimum salary threshold required for a foreign skilled worker visa from £26,000 to £40,000.

She also suggested replacing the two-year period during which graduates can stay in the UK and work or look for work with a four month period.

The four-point proposal, seen by the Telegraph, stated: “A. Close down the graduate visa route. B. Restrict number of dependents. C. Prioritise particular universities and courses. D. Increase salary thresholds for skilled workers from £25k to £40k.”

Sunak did not sign the deal, but agreed to it verbally on multiple occasions, allies of the ex-home secretary Braverman told the newspaper.

it comes as the PM faces a growing revolt over immigration after shock figures showed net migration hit a new record of 745,000 last year.

Braverman successor as home secretary, James Cleverly, is set to announce a review of measures to control migration levels. is the UK’s leading digital-only political website, providing comprehensive coverage of UK politics. Subscribe to our daily newsletter here.