Cleverly appointed as new interior minister. Image Credit: AFP

LONDON:  British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak sacked his Interior Minister, Suella Braverman, on Monday, a government source said, part of a wider reshuffle after she criticised the police's handling of a pro-Palestinian march.

Under fire from opposition lawmakers and members of his own governing Conservative Party to eject Braverman, Sunak moved against his interior minister, asking her "to leave government" which she had accepted, the source said.

Following her dismissal, Braverman said "it has been the greatest privilege of my life to serve as home secretary".

"I will have more to say in due course," she added.

The firing comes as the ruling Conservatives confirmed a major reshuffle of Sunak's top ministers was underway - his first since becoming the country's leader on October 25, 2022.

"Here we go," the party said on X, formerly Twitter.

"Today @RishiSunak strengthens his team in government to deliver long-term decisions for a brighter future. Stay tuned for the latest."

The changes, set to be announced through the morning, are expected to reward loyalists and younger emerging MPs, after nearly 14 years in power takes its toll on the Tories' popularity.

The party has trailed the main Labour opposition by double-digit margins throughout Sunak's time in powe

former PM David Cameron walking into Downing Street on Monday. Image Credit: Reuters

Cleverly replaces Braverman

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly replaced Braverman, while former PM David Cameron returned to government as foreign secretary.

Earlier, as Sunak started to reshuffle his ministerial team, Cameron was seen walking into Downing Street, sparking speculation that he would return to government.

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Last week, Braverman defied Sunak by publishing an article accusing the police of adopting "double standards" in its treatment of protests - an argument opposition Labour said inflamed tensions at a pro-Palestinian demonstration on Saturday.

Then more than 140 people were arrested after far-right counter protesters skirmished with police, who tried to keep them away from the 300,000 pro-Palestinian marchers.

Sunak is expected to carry out a wider number of changes in his cabinet, bringing in allies and removing some ministers who his Downing Street office say have not been performing as well as he wanted in their departments.

Sunak appointed the pugilistic Braverman to his government to mollify the right fringe of his party when he became prime minister just over a year ago. But an awkward political alliance became a liability as Braverman's language became more strident. Her remark that homeless people sleep on streets as a "lifestyle choice" also angered Tories in recent days.

Ousting her is likely to lead to Braverman becoming a fierce critic of the administration at a crucial time. But had Sunak kept her, he would have fed efforts by opposition Labour leader Keir Starmer to paint the prime minister as weak ahead of an expected general election next year.