Isabel Hardman

Was Jeremy Browne shut out of the tight Home Office ship?

Was Jeremy Browne shut out of the tight Home Office ship?
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There's a lot of interest in Jeremy Browne's revelation in the Times this morning that senior Tories have already been trying to persuade the sacked Lib Dem Home Office minister to defect. Browne bats this away by showing that he really is a true Lib Dem with the only evidence that his fellow yellows will accept. 'Not many people have delivered more leaflets than me,' he protests. It's also worth asking why Lib Dems are quite so obsessed with shopping trolleys: Browne uses the same image that Clegg used to criticise Theresa May this spring.

But what's just as interesting is what Browne has to say about his struggles in the Home Office. On those controversial 'go home' vans, he says:

'I wasn't told about the vans. I wasn't copied into the paper that was circulated in the Home Office. Now whether that was due to a deliberate political decision or was an administrative oversight, who knows?'

This is a politer way of saying what Browne often bitterly remarked to colleagues in private: Theresa May runs such a tight ship at the Home Office that anyone she sees posing a risk to her mission generally gets shut out. I hear that Browne frequently complained to colleagues about not receiving memos or briefings when he was in May's department. Which means that his replacement Norman Baker is going to have to be very 'assiduous', as May described him this week, in ensuring that the same fate doesn't befall him.