It has not been a great week for Suella Braverman.
It began on Monday with her making an inflammatory speech to activists, which Tory MPs saw as a shameless leadership bid, and then being told by colleagues to stick to the day job.
And it ended with embarrassing reports on Saturday evening that she asked civil servants to help her dodge a speeding fine, prompting accusations of a cover-up and breaking the ministerial code.
In between, Ms Braverman saw her personal approval rating plunge in a YouGov poll – and critics cruelly pointed out her right-wing populism wasn’t, in fact, very popular.
At the same time, the home secretary clashed with cabinet colleagues on migration policy and is also facing a likely onslaught from Tory right-wingers over new figures in a few days showing a sharp rise in immigration.
Now, on top of the confrontations she faces with opponents and some colleagues on policy issues, the embattled Braverman could soon be facing an inquiry into her conduct as a minister which could lead to her being sacked.
What is Suella Braverman accused of?
The charge against her is she asked civil servants to help her dodge a speeding fine, rather than pay up and take the penalty points or instead go on a speed awareness course with other drivers.
She asked her officials to arrange a private, one-to-one speed awareness course, reports suggest.
VIP treatment, in other words. But the officials said no, that wouldn’t be right. And mandarins at the Cabinet Office backed the decision of their Home Office colleagues.
Her allies don’t dispute the story, which first appeared in The Sunday Times and was also billed as an exclusive on the front of the Mail on Sunday, but say she would have had to take her protection team if she’d attended in person.
Not a particularly convincing excuse.
The Sunday Times suggested she didn’t want the inevitable publicity that would follow her attending a group session, and was worried about her insurance premiums going up. Well, sorry, Suella, bad luck.
PM told trigger ethics investigation
Political opponents, not surprisingly, are claiming it’s “one rule for her and another for everyone else” and want an ethics probe by Sir Laurie Magnus, the City grandee appointed by Rishi Sunak as his adviser on the ministerial code.
But Tory Brexiteer allies of the home secretary are already crying foul, claiming just like the ousting of Dominic Raab over bullying allegations, this is a case of the civil service “blob” attempting to bring down another cabinet minister.
It was, however, almost six hours after The Sunday Times published the story on its website that the Home Office eventually issued a statement attempting to repair the damage.
“Ms Braverman accepts that she was speeding last summer and regrets doing so. She took the three points and paid the fine last year,” said a spokesman.
How much of a threat are renegade Tories to PM?
Too little, too late?
She’ll no doubt hope her belated mea culpa may draw a line under the row and perhaps take the sting out of calls for a full-blown probe by Sir Laurie, the ethics watchdog. Fat chance, as they say, of that.
As luck would have it – for her opponents, that is – the first business when the Commons sits again on Monday is… questions to the home secretary, Suella Braverman.
Popcorn at the ready.