Finally, Suella Braverman has been sacked as the UK’s Home Secretary, and it’s about time too. Never has Britain seen such a toxic, divisive interior minister who has, through a series of statements and policy moves, catered to the far right of the conservative base while demonising minorities and even the homeless.
The last straw appeared to be an article Braverman wrote for ‘The Times’ newspaper, where she accused the police of bias in handling pro Palestinian protesters, saying the cops were tougher on right wing demonstrators.
It has been widely reported in the British media that Braverman defied an order from Number 10 to tone down the article — a piece that was seen as having crossed a red line of political interference in the police’s functioning.
Ultimately, Rishi Sunak had to sack her to show he was still the boss. Braverman was also roundly criticised for stoking tensions in London through her comments ahead of a planned protest on Armistice Day calling for a Gaza ceasefire. Braverman had described the pro Palestinian protests as a ‘hate march’.
Ironically, those protests passed off peacefully and the violence came from counter protesters from the right wing who had come out to confront the pro palestianian marchers. Nine police officers were injured. The Met police later condemned the “extreme violence from right wing protesters”.
Dog whistle politics
Some commentators believe Rishi Sunak may have made a mistake by sacking Braverman and that this will stir up a bitter battle within the Tory party for the leadership ahead of the next general election which is due sometime next year.
A senior Tory MP, Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg has said Braverman’s sacking will hit the Conservatives’ chances of winning and that, “Suella understands what the country thinks about migration”. But is politics only about winning elections and resorting to dog whistle statements to do so?
Suella Braverman has exhibited anything but exemplary leadership skills. She has used hate to get ahead and that is just not OK. Just a glance at some of her statements over the past year tell you exactly what she stands for.
“We 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,” Braverman recently said triggering off revulsion even within her own party.
Addressing the Conservative Party at its annual conference earlier this year, she described migration as “a “hurricane that would bring millions more immigrants to these shores, uncontrolled and unmanageable.” UK governments had been “far too squeamish” she said about being “smeared as racist to properly bring order to the chaos.”
In an earlier speech in which she addressed an American think tank, she warned that countries faced an “existential” threat unless they were able to control their borders. Ironically, this extreme hard line comes from a woman who is of Indian origin. Her parents both trace their roots to India and emigrated to the UK in the 1960s.
Her comments on “gender ideology” which she described as a“woke” and “highly controversial” thesis, evoked even sharper responses. There was a very public and angry reaction from Tory London Assembly member Andrew Boff who said “I’m a loyal Tory.....This is not what our Conservative party is about.”
It took many people by surprise when Rishi Sunak first appointed Braverman to the Home Secretary’s position especially since she had lost the same job under Prime Minister Liz Truss only weeks earlier over using her private email for sharing confidential cabinet papers with another Tory MP.
Perhaps at the time Sunak was trying to please everyone in his badly divided party at the time. Things have obviously shifted with the return of former Prime Minister David Cameron in his cabinet. It is entirely possible that Braverman will seek the Tory leadership now and paint herself as a martyr.
Already, a number of Tory MPs leaning more to the right are coming out in her support. This will put the ideology of the Tories to test at a time when the party has been more diverse than ever before. Till then, it’s good riddance to Suella/Cruella Braverman.