Any time sacking Braverman was too late

In an ominous warning after she left Downing Street on Monday, Suella Braverman announced that she would have “more to say” about her exit in due course. And, like the Terminator, she was back. Her letter in response to Rishi Sunak giving her the sack was published on Twitter the next day.

I’ve followed the drama in anticipation, never knowing what will happen next. I’m usually against politics being a source of entertainment but this irredeemable mess is hard not to watch. Sunak’s speech at the Tory conference alluded to the same thing. He attempted to distance himself from the previous 13 years of Tory rule. The speech portrayed him as the candidate who would provide a fresh start.

Braverman was a voice of the far-right with a scary amount of legitimacy

And we saw that fresh start in the ousting of Braverman and the return of… David Cameron? Good riddance to her. Braverman was a voice of the far-right with a scary amount of legitimacy. Only a week after Sunak became Prime Minister, she referred to the migrant crisis as an “invasion”. Her use of inflammatory language whilst in office made her the far-right politician. Every policy she proposed, tweet she tweeted (or X she X’d?), and statement she made in the Commons painted that image.

After Sunak decided to keep her on from Liz Truss’ cabinet, it was going to cause trouble if he ever wanted to give her the sack. And since she’s not one to resign, she wasn’t going to go without a fight. Her criticising the police in her article two weeks ago was an example of her arrogance. Sunak had already addressed similar criticisms in his meeting with the Commissioner earlier on that day. Braverman aimed to do two things by going on to brand the Met Police as biased: try to make them U-turn; and increase tension between the police and the public.

Braverman’s unsuccessful attempt to force a U-turn only bolstered her aim to increase tension. It turned her article into a target on the backs of the police. She wanted them to ban the pro-Palestinian march on Armistice Day, despite there being no legislative power to do so. Her article made it seem like the police did have this power but they were neglecting to use it. Such an accusation threatened the rocky peace between the Met and the Government. But Braverman couldn’t read the room. She maintained her attack on the police’s decision to not seek a ban against those she called “hate marchers”.

Rishi only had one choice from this moment onwards. If Braverman could ignore direct instructions from Downing Street to edit her article, how could anyone keep her in check? Whenever he was going to sack her, it was still going to be too late. He would have to face the trouble that would raise with the right. She would become their martyr: she spoke for many of the Tory MPs and for right-wing nationalists outside the party, like Tommy Robinson, former leader of the English Defense League (EDL). 

Sunak finds himself stuck between primary-level literacy and virulent bigotry

Reflecting on the previous weekend’s events reminds me that a broken clock is right twice a day. She claimed that aggression would break out on Armistice Day. And what did we see? At least 126 arrests were made, nine police officers injured, and the public were attacked with racist and Islamophobic comments. Around 150 pro-Palestinian demonstraters were also detained in the evening, long after the earlier violence by the Cenotaph. The events that occurred on Saturday could not justify keeping her as Home Secretary for much longer.

In a more significant way, Suella was right about what would happen on the weekend. The majority of arrests were of far-right protesters who aimed their violence towards the police and the public. Her claim that the police are usually more firm with right-wing protesters was true. A loud walking protest pales in comparison to the assault committed by nationalists and EDL-sympathisers. To not use force against people enacting violence would be ignoring their duty to protect the public.
She’s just an MP now but I doubt Suella Braverman will be quiet on the backbench. She managed to make a formidable name for herself in the past year. Her exit was a disappointment for many people and will only serve to stir up more trouble for the PM. We’re already seeing letters of no confidence, including the “barely literate” letter written by Tory MP Andrea Jenkyns. And I’m not too hopeful about the calibre of the rest of the Conservatives at the moment. Sunak finds himself stuck between primary-level literacy and virulent bigotry.

Image Credit: Committee quizzes Suella Braverman 2022 by Robin S Taylor, licensed under CC BY 2.0, cropped from original.

Image Description: Suella Braverman seated at a desk, addressing a committee.