Minister for maternity leave: Michael Ellis is promoted to Attorney General as Suella Braverman takes a break before the birth of her child thanks to overhaul of antiquated rules for senior Government posts
Solicitor General Michael Ellis was promoted to Attorney General today, to become the first MP to officially cover a minister’s maternity leave.
The Northampton MP will step up to become the Government’s top legal officer as incumbent Suella Braverman takes time off around the birth of her second child.
The move was only made possible by a change in the law earlier this year after it emerged antiquated rules governing senior ministerial posts would have forced her to quit in order to spend any time with her child and family.
A Downing Street statement said: ‘The Prime Minister gives the Attorney General his very best wishes for her maternity leave and looks forward to welcoming her back in the autumn.’
The Northampton MP will step up to become the Government’s top legal officer as incumbent Suella Braverman takes time off ahead of the birth of her second child.
Mrs Braverman, who had a son, George, in July 2019, announced in November that she was expecting a baby ‘early next year’.
She is believed to be the most senior woman at Cabinet level to have a child in office. But outdated Whitehall rules would have prevented her from taking maternity leave, prompting an outcry from women’s rights campaigners.
Provisions were already in place allowing junior ministers to take maternity leave without quitting their frontbench roles.
But there was no such provision in place for secretary of states or government law officers.
It led the Government to introduce and pass the Ministerial and other Maternity Allowances Act 2021 last month.
Mr Ellis, the MP for Northampton North since 2010, is a former transport and culture minister who has been Solicitor General since Boris Johnson became Prime Minister in July 2019.
His promotion sees Lucy Frazer move from Prisons Minister to fill his post, having done the job under Theresa May.
Downing Street said both changes were temporary until Mrs Braverman returns.
Meteoric rise of Suella Braverman: How state-school educated daughter of an immigrant nurse became government’s most-senior law chief aged just 39
By SOPHIE LAW FOR MAILONLINE
Attorney General Suella Braverman, the daughter of immigrant parents who built a new life in Britain, enjoyed a meteoric rise to the Cabinet at the age of just 39.
Her appointment as the Prime Minister’s most senior legal advisor saw her replace Geoffrey Cox in a reshuffle in February last year.
The 40-year-old MP for Fareham was born and raised in north west London by parents who came to the UK from from Kenya and Mauritius in the 1960s with little money in their pockets.
New Attorney General Suella Braverman’s meteoric rise to the Cabinet at age 39 will no doubt strengthen pro-Brexit voices at the top table
Her mother was a nurse with the NHS for more than 45 years after being recruited at just 18, while her father worked for a housing association.
Speaking of her modest upbringing on her website, the former Attorney in New York says her parents were ‘proud to serve their local community’ of Wembley.
‘No problem was too small. Whether it was trying to save the local library, or keep the local playing fields open or help a resident get a better home,’ she wrote.
The aspiring lawyer was state educated in Brent before she won a scholarship to an independent girls’ school in the nearby borough of Harrow.
From there, she gained a place to study law at the Queens’ College, Cambridge University, where she was president of the university Conservative Association, before gaining a master’s at the Sarbonne in Paris.
Braverman sat her Bar Exam in New York State qualifying as an attorney, and has seen her career sky rocket ever since.
The Brexit minister, who is a former barrister, has threatened to ‘take back control’ from interfering judges in politics amid Boris Johnson’s battle with the judiciary
During her 10 years as a barrister, she was on the Attorney General’s Treasury Panel, and defended the Home Secretary in immigration cases and the Ministry of Defence in the Guantanamo Bay Inquiry.
Braverman, who lives in Tichfield Common with husband Rael and son George, worked as a barrister in London specialising in judicial review and immigration – before winning her constituency seat in 2015.
A staunch Brexiteer, she campaigned Leave in 2016 and was made chair of the European Research Group of pro-Leave Conservative MPs a year later.
But she relinquished that role when she was appointed a junior minister Department for Exiting the EU (DExEU) – but lasted just nine months.
Suella, who lives in Tichfield Common with husband Rael and son George, worked as a barrister in London specialising in judicial review and immigration – before winning her constituency seat in 2015
On the day Theresa May’s proposed deal was published, she resigned in protest, saying the Northern Ireland Backstop ‘robs the UK of the main competitive advantages from Brexit’.
She sparked controversy in 2019 when she was accused of being ‘antisemitic’ over her declaration that: ‘As Conservatives, we are engaged in a battle against cultural Marxism.’
The Board of Deputies of British Jews asked her not to use the phrase again, but described her as ‘clearly a good friend of the Jewish community’.
Braverman faced criticism on her appointment of Attorney General, with many deeming her ‘unfit’ for the role.
The Liberal Democrats party’s justice spokesperson Daisy Cooper said it is ‘the latest shocking step in Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings’ assault on the rule of law’.
Meanwhile, the barrister and former Conservative MP Anna Soubry similarly tweeted that Braverman had ‘little experience’.
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