Suella Braverman: Conservative MPs distance themselves from Home Secretary as calls to sack her intensify
One of Braverman's Conservative colleagues has refused to say whether she will still be Home Secretary in a week's time
A push for Suella Braverman to be sacked has grown into a resounding cry from other politicians, as senior Tory MPs seem to be distancing themselves from their controversial colleague.
Calls have been mounting for the Home Secretary to lose her job, after she wrote an explosive - and reportedly unauthorized - opinion piece in the Times, accusing the Metropolitan Police of bias towards left-wing protesters and of "playing favourites" with "pro-Palestinian mobs", after the the force said it would allow a mass demonstration calling for a ceasefire in Palestine to go ahead on Armistice Day. Other Conservative MPs failed to back her comments, with one even calling them "unhinged".
This comes after criticism of Braverman over her comments on a number of other policies in recent months, including her saying many people were living on the streets as "a lifestyle choice" - as she proposed banning charities from giving tents to homeless people. Braverman also championed a highly controversial move to deport asylum seekers who arrived in the UK by illegal means - like small boats - to be deported to Rwanda, with a Supreme Court ruling on this policy expected on Wednesday. Similar plans attributed to her, including housing asylum seekers in marquees on military bases, have been slammed by the British Red Cross, who say they will "lead to significant suffering" and could re-traumatise people fleeing war.
At the National March for Palestine on Saturday (11 November), many protesters carried signs calling for her to be sacked for "stoking divisions", and decrying her describing it as a "hate march". Speakers at the demonstration - including left-wing MPs - referred to Braverman as the "Home Secretary of hate", and "the nastiest, most divisive" MP in Parliament, calling for Sunak to "grow a spine" and sack her. The crowd gave loud cheers at many of these comments.
Some of her senior Conservative colleagues now appear to be distancing themselves from her. Defence Secretary Grant Shapps was asked on Sky News on Sunday about her political future, including whether she would still be Home Secretary in a week's time.
“As you know, and I know well, a week’s a long time in politics. I never make predictions about these things," he told host Trevor Phillips. Pressed on calls for her removal, he said: “The make-up of the Cabinet is entirely a matter for the Prime Minister. He will decide that in his own time.”
His lack of endorsement came as Labour’s shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said Braverman could not stay in her job, blaming her “appalling and unprecedented attack” on the Metropolitan Police for emboldening far-right counter protesters at the pro-Palestine march. “I don’t see how she can continue to do this job, she does not have the credibility or the authority to do the serious job of Home Secretary."
She added that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak “needs to deal with this”, PA reports, “because otherwise all that he shows is he is weak, he doesn’t care about policing and he doesn’t care about the security of our country”. Meanwhile, Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf has echoed calls for Braverman to be sacked and not allowed to resign.
Speaking to journalists as he arrived at Remembrance Day commemorations in Edinburgh, he agreed some on the far right attacked the police as a result of her “fanning the flames of division”. “I’m afraid that the Home Secretary’s position, in my view, is untenable," he said. “She should not even be allowed to resign, she should just be sacked by the Prime Minister because no Home Secretary should be fanning the flames of division – quite the opposite.”
Sunak has so far maintained confidence in Braverman, although he has yet to comment on the matter since the London march. However, former cabinet minister Nadine Dorries has taken to BBC to say Braverman should not be sacked - stating it was “almost impossible to believe” that her opinion piece had not been approved by Downing Street.
The article is thought to have was published without the alterations requested by Number 10. Dorries said: “I absolutely do not believe that her article, which is at the root of all of this, went into The Times newspaper and was not approved by it, I just don’t believe that." The person who should be taking responsibility was the Prime Minister, she continued, and that Braverman was victim of backlash "steeped in both misogyny and sexism".