Senior members of the Conservative party have stated that Rishi Sunak will lose his credibility as prime minister if he does not dismiss his polarizing home secretary, Suella Braverman, in the near future.
As frustration mounts over her controversial accusations of police prejudice and blatant rebellion against No 10, the general belief among the majority of Conservatives is that Sunak will remove Braverman at the beginning of this week, paving the way for a cabinet restructuring that, his supporters anticipate, may revive his leadership.
Although the home secretary has some backing from a minority of conservative Members of Parliament, party enforcers have been inundated with requests from more moderate members to have Braverman removed from her position after Armistice Day events and the pro-Palestinian protest in London today.
A former member of the cabinet shared with the Observer that Braverman’s recent article in the Times, where she accused the police of favoring pro-Palestinian “mobs,” was a clear attempt to get fired. As a result, Sunak had no choice but to dismiss her.
Retaining her would be extremely detrimental because, in addition to already being an unpopular prime minister, he would also become a weak and unpopular one.
According to him, Braverman’s actions were causing harm to the party’s ability to attract voters. Many colleagues believe that Suella’s message is turning away voters in the southern part of England. This cannot continue.
In response to Braverman’s recent statement that homeless individuals choose to live on the streets, the senior member of the Tory party expressed his disapproval. He stated, “That was a definite line being crossed. Criticizing homeless individuals and claiming their situation is a choice is not only ignorant, but also cruel.” When asked about his level of anger towards Braverman’s actions, he responded with an “11” on a scale of one to 10.
There is widespread disapproval towards the home secretary for her refusal to tone down her article in The Times, despite being asked to do so. Many also criticize her for constantly catering to her right-wing supporters. One senior member of the Conservative party even described her as a “monster” with views that are deemed unacceptable by the majority of the political community.
Braverman’s comments regarding police prejudice were viewed as not only causing division but also presenting potential danger, particularly in light of the pro-Palestinian march and Armistice Day events happening today. In an effort to alleviate tensions, she met with Met commissioner Mark Rowley yesterday.
Even top members of the party have been publicly stating that it is time for Braverman to be removed from the cabinet and left to fend for themselves as a backbench member.
According to Sir Charles Walker, a previous vice-chair of the group of backbenchers known as the 1922 committee, the cabinet and parliamentary party would benefit from not having her present. He believes her absence would create a more positive atmosphere and alleviate concerns about her unpredictable remarks.
He stated: “The actions of the home secretary indicate that she may be better suited to leading the Reform party rather than being a part of the Conservative party. While she may believe she has all the solutions, if there were easy fixes to complicated issues, we would have already discovered them. Politics is a challenging realm to navigate, and those who excel at it do so with subtlety, empathy, and comprehension.”
Martin Vickers, a member of the 1922 committee executive, typically refrains from publicly criticizing ministers. However, he believes that Home Secretary Theresa May crossed a line and as a result, the media coverage of last week’s king’s speech was overshadowed by the controversy she caused. Vickers stated that it is unacceptable for the home secretary to engage in a public dispute with the commissioner.
A prominent member of Parliament from a “red wall” district stated that Braverman had the right to share her opinion in a country that values freedom of speech. However, they also noted that she should have done so as a backbencher, rather than from a higher position.
Critics of Braverman within the Tory party state that the timing of potentially firing her is crucial. They assert that Sunak must remove her from her position before the supreme court makes a ruling on Wednesday regarding the lawfulness of her practice of sending asylum seekers to Rwanda.
According to one person, the decision regarding Suella’s fate must be made early this week because if the government wins, it will be a victory for her and strengthen her position. However, if she loses, the Prime Minister’s decision to dismiss her may be viewed as a result of a court case about a policy he supported. Therefore, the decision is likely to be made on Monday.
Some pro-Braverman ministers have mentioned the possibility of resigning if she is fired. They believe that this would give them an advantage if she were to become the leader of the party after the upcoming election. However, most MPs state that Braverman does not have significant support within the party or among the public.
Moderate Members of Parliament are also frustrated by the actions of a small group of radical individuals who are damaging the party’s chances in elections. This behavior is seen as detrimental and chaotic. The party is being controlled by a handful of people who believe that attacking certain groups and defying the established norms will increase our popularity. In reality, it is causing harm to our party. The prime minister must consider whether it is worth keeping the home secretary and her group of supporters happy at the expense of the party’s well-being.
A different MP with moderate views stated that it is incorrect to assume that dismissing Braverman would result in her allies stepping down. He expressed that a majority of the party members are uneasy with the home secretary, not only due to her beliefs, but also because of her poor performance and lack of skill. The main concern is, what purpose does she serve? There is no political advantage or competence being gained, and the situation is chaotic with no clear strategy in place.
David Gauke, a previous justice secretary, also condemned Braverman’s involvement. He stated that she has her own personal agenda and is not focused on fulfilling her duties as home secretary or aiding her party in presenting a united and organized government to the public. While she is allowed to have concerns about the pro-Palestinian protests, her actions only make the job of the police more difficult.
In the meantime, prominent members of the Labour party accused Braverman of inciting extreme right-wing aggression towards the police. This occurred when supporters of activist Tommy Robinson and football hooligans breached police barriers right before the two-minute silence on Armistice Day.
Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, expressed concern over the chaos caused by far-right individuals at the Cenotaph, attributing it to the words of the home secretary. He also noted that this has made the police’s job more challenging. Humza Yousaf, the first minister of Scotland, stated that the far right had been encouraged by Braverman’s actions and called for her resignation.