James Cleverly’s biggest gaffes

The Home Secretary and MP for Braintree, appeared to forget his new job title.

James Cleverly has replaced Suella Braverman as home secretary, as part of Rishi Sunak’s Cabinet reshuffle, as the PM attempts to rescue his troubled premiership.

The former foreign secretary has kept a relative low profile, compared to his controversial predecessor at least. Though Cleverly shares many of the same views as Braverman, including stricter asylum controls, and a tougher enforcement of immigration rules.

Since the Brexiteer, army reservist, and MP of Braintree, Essex, has been a cabinet minister, he has been prone to putting his foot in it.  Here’s some of James Cleverly’s biggest gaffes.

Cleverly forgets his new job title

In the first blunder since becoming home secretary, the minister appeared to forget his new job title. Speaking at the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners and National Police Chiefs Council joint summit on November 16, the former foreign secretary, said: “I want to feel that you can speak with me and my team at the Foreign… Old habits die hard,” as the audience broke out in laughter.

Can’t remember if he called Rwanda deportation scheme ‘batshit’

In an interview with the BBC’s Charlie Stayt this week, the Home Secretary squirmed when he was pressed about whether he had described the government’s controversial Rwanda scheme as ‘batshit.’

The claim was made by Labour’s Yvette Cooper in the Commons following the Supreme Court’s torpedoing of the government’s contentious deportation plan. When pressed about the comment by Stayt, Cleverly tried to deflect from the question by describing the story as “Parliamentary theatre.”

Cleverly forgets where he is in local election video

In the run-up to the local elections in May, government ministers were told to get out on the doorsteps in a bid to ‘turbocharge’ the Tory election plan. The then foreign secretary did just that and was keen to share his campaigning efforts online. But in one promotional clip, the minister failed to pronounce the name of the local Conservative candidate he was with properly, and then forgot where they were, having to be prompted by the candidate. The election campaign video went viral and was blasted as one of the worse social media clips ever tweeted by a cabinet minister.

Tried to blame the mini-budget fallout on Labour

During the media rounds following Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng’s mini-budget, the then foreign secretary was interviewed by Sky News. Attempting to pin the fallout over the budget on anyone but the government, Cleverly told Kay Burley it was the fault of Labour’s “negative narrative.” 

Reminded of Bank of England intervention

In another awkward moment in the same interview, Cleverly had to be reminded about the Bank of England’s intervention to ‘save our economy.’ The intervention was of course made after the Truss/Kwarteng mini-budget sent the markets into freefall.

Forced to admit he ‘misspoke’ after BBC blunder

As Truss was under growing pressure to clarify her position on the welfare system, Cleverly added fuel to the fire by telling BBC Breakfast that the public should expect an announcement on benefits policy “in the early part of next year,” despite expectations that the PM would unveil her plan in a matter of weeks.

The BBC later revealed the cabinet minister had reported he “misspoke” during the exchange and his revelations about a policy announcement date were in fact incorrect.

Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead is a contributing editor to Left Foot Forward

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