News Editor Poppy Jacobs reports on recent political events behind Rishi Sunak sacking Suella Braverman
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak sacked Suella Braverman as Home Secretary on Monday 13th November. The decision follows a number of controversial moves from the former Home Secretary, including referring to homelessness a ‘lifestyle choice’, and an unapproved article in the Sunday Times slamming the MET Police.
The former home secretary was accused of stoking tensions ahead of pro-Palestinian protests in London. Braverman, who called her time as home secretary ‘the greatest privilege of my life’, has been replaced by James Cleverly.
Braverman’s explosive opinion piece to the Times on the 9th November caused a considerable stir within the government, despite the former home secretary having long been considered a provocative and divisive figure within the Conservative party.
In the article, the former home secretary claimed the MET police, the UK’s largest police force, were ‘playing favourites’ over their reluctance to ban a pro-Palestinian protest over armistice weekend. It would be the fifth Saturday in a row that protestors have taken to the streets of London to protest the rising civilian death toll in Gaza.
Braverman described these protestors as ‘hate marchers’, ‘Islamists’ and ‘mobs’, despite the demonstrations remaining mostly peaceful. She went on to describe the gatherings as not ‘merely a cry for help for Gaza’, but ‘an assertion of primacy by certain groups — particularly Islamists.’
The piece was not approved by the government prior to publication, and it was later revealed Braverman had gone against the Downing Street request to tone the article down. Her position in a senior cabinet role at the time of writing was seen as particularly inflammatory, with shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper describing her as ‘highly irresponsible’.
Following its publication, far-right groups including the English Defence League confronted pro-Palestinian protestors in London on the 11th November. The clashes turned violent, resulting in 9 officers being injured and 145 people being arrested. Nick Dickinson, British politics specialist at Oxford University, said this reaction was likely what spurred Sunak to remove her from office.
The article followed Braverman’s comments on X, formerly Twitter, where she stated the British public ‘cannot allow our streets to be taken over by rows of tents occupied by people, many of them from abroad, living on the streets as a lifestyle choice’. She suggested restricting the homeless from using tents – met by considerable backlash from both the public, and homeless charities like Shelter.
As Home Secretary, Braverman is responsible for law enforcement, immigration policy and national security. This is the second time Braverman has been removed from the post – she was forced to resign under Liz Truss’ premiership after it was revealed she had shared confidential cabinet papers with Tory MP Sir John Hayes. Her position as home secretary under newly-appointed Sunak just one week later came to many as a political surprise.
The recent sacking subsequently triggered a major reshuffle in the cabinet; Braverman was replaced by James Cleverly, formerly Foreign Secretary. In perhaps the most unexpected turn of events, the opening for Foreign Secretary was then filled by former-Prime Minister David Cameron, who announced his original retirement from politics in 2016.
Other movements within the cabinet reshuffling saw former transport minister Richard Holden appointed Conservative Party chairman, as well as Steve Barclay replacing Therese Coffey as environment secretary. Victoria Atkins was promoted to Barclay’s prior role as Treasury minister, and Laura Trott took chief secretary to the Treasury – a role formerly held by John Glen.
Since the sacking, Braverman has made an official statement on X bashing Sunak’s premiership. She suggested there had long been tensions between herself and the prime minister, stating that issues she raised were often met with ‘equivocation, disregard and a lack of interest’ from Sunak.
Right-wing Tories have also met, with one MP even filing a letter of no confidence in Sunak. It is predicted Braverman may publish another eviscerating newspaper article in the coming days in an attempt to position herself as a figurehead for right-leaning Conservative MPs.
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