Sacking Suella Braverman ‘could backfire’ on Rishi Sunak
No10 said the Prime Minister retained full confidence in the Home Secretary as officials continued to look into how the article accusing the police of “playing favourites” towards pro-Palestine protesters was published.
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt became the most senior figure to distance himself from his Cabinet colleague as the row continued to fuel splits in the Conservative Party.
He said: “As many other Cabinet ministers have said, the words she used are not words I myself would have used.
“But I have a productive relationship with her as a colleague and I have always given her the money that she needs to fund police, bring down crime and to fund the immigration and asylum system.”
Mrs Braverman’s article suggested people on Gaza demonstrations are “largely ignored, even when clearly breaking the law”.
READ MORE: ‘Remembrance is sacred, a moment of unity, of shared British values’
The piece had not been signed off by Downing Street, which had requested significant changes were made to it before publication. Mr Sunak will decide if the Home Secretary’s actions have breached the ministerial code and whether he should sack her.
But senior Tory MPs on the Right of the party warned against firing Ms Braverman, insisting she was speaking for the “silent majority”.
And Conservative peer Lord Jackson stressed that Mr Sunak was in a “shaky position” and sacking the Home Secretary would “backfire”.
He added: “He’s not in a good position. His conference speech didn’t go that well, neither did The King’s Speech. There was not much sausage and even less sizzle.
“As we go forward, he has to try to unite the party. Firing one of the great offices of state-holders will not be a great decision. It would really backfire quite badly on Rishi Sunak.”
Tory MP Nick Fletcher said the Home Secretary had simply called for the police to address the “lack of balance which seems to stare at us in the face”. He added: “Maintaining public support for the police and their methods is absolutely crucial for our democracy – Suella Braverman understands the crucial importance of this and that something must change.
“As we approach one of the most important dates in our national calendar – Remembrance Sunday – and the prospect of further calls for Jihad and displays of hate and anti-Semitism on our streets, our Home Secretary has reminded the police the public will expect to see ‘an assertive and proactive approach to any displays of hate, breaches of conditions and general disorder’.
“The silent majority of people agree with her and will respect and appreciate her call for review and rebalance. She has my full support.” A show of support for Mrs Braverman comes as she met Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley yesterday.
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A source close to the Home Secretary said they discussed the policing of demonstrations on Armistice Day today and added: “The Commissioner outlined plans to continue working to maintain public order, ensure compliance with the law and maintain the safety of participants, police officers and the general public.
“The Home Secretary emphasised her full backing for the police in what will be a complex and challenging situation and expressed confidence any criminality will be dealt with robustly.”
Meanwhile, Tory MP Brendan Clarke-Smith insisted “most people” would agree with Mrs Braverman’s comments in a column that said the police are biased.
He said: “People want the same thing. We want to be able to have Armistice Day without it being interfered with, protesters ruining it. The Prime Minister’s obviously gone in with the Met. Some people may disagree with the language Suella Braverman used.
“But what she actually means behind this, I think most people would agree with that.”
However, Tory Justice Committee chairman Sir Bob Neill claimed Mrs Braverman’s position was “untenable”. And Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, treasurer of the influential backbench 1922 Committee, suggested “we cannot carry on as we are” with the Fareham MP as Home Secretary.
“The Prime Minister will certainly want to have a very serious conversation with her to seek an undertaking that either she will handle it in a calmer, private way in the future or possibly consider it’s time for her to move to another job in the Cabinet.
Mr Sunak was expected to carry out a major ministerial reshuffle soon ahead of a likely election next year.
Speculation is mounting that the shake-up will be brought forward to allow Mrs Braverman to be moved as part of a wider overhaul.
Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves criticised her for “interfering” with the police’s operational independence. She said: “The Government, the Home Secretary most of all, should not be involving herself in the operational decisions of the force who have got to do their work without fear or favour.”
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