British Home Secretary Suella Braverman has long portrayed herself as a conservative hardliner. Now the 43-year-old may have crossed a line. But that may have to be calculated.
British Home Secretary Suella Braverman is using the excitement surrounding pro-Palestinian protests to present herself as a possible successor to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. The conservative hardliner accused the London police, for which she is responsible, of being blind in the left eye and of tolerating violations of the law during the “hate marches” against the Israeli bombing of the Gaza Strip. Sunak came under massive pressure on Thursday to fire the 43-year-old, who has been making headlines in the country for days with right-wing populist statements.
Sunak’s spokesman had to be asked whether the prime minister had the impression that Braverman still respected his authority. “Yes,” he said. And Downing Steeet emphasized that the head of government had “full trust” in his party colleague.
But that is exactly what could weaken the prime minister. Even many Tories have the impression that Braverman is intentionally confrontational. “She’s on a mission to get fired,” Sky News quoted an MP as saying. Some observers believe that Braverman will claim the party leadership at the latest after the next election, which is likely to take place in 2024 and is now likely to be lost resoundingly by the Tories. If she were now fired by Sunak, her name would not be associated with an electoral defeat, it is said in London.
Most vocal representative of the right wing of the party
Braverman has long portrayed herself as the most vocal representative of the right wing of the party. The minister has the “license to say the unsayable,” commented BBC chief reporter Chris Mason. She is allowed to express views that colleagues wouldn’t even dare to say in private. “How do we know she has the license? If she didn’t have it, she would be fired.”
Braverman repeatedly criticized irregular migrants, spoke of an “invasion” and most recently of a “hurricane.” She railed against homosexuals and “eco-zealots.” A few days ago the minister wanted to ban charities from giving tents to homeless people who had chosen life on the streets as a “lifestyle”. There was already great excitement within the party.
The opposition Labor party, which is leading in all polls, now called Braverman “out of control”. The fact that Sunak let them go shows his weakness. However, the minister received support from the right wing. Braverman is authentic, that’s what people want, said former Brexit minister David Frost.
For Sunak, the case is becoming an ordeal. If he fires Braverman, the arch-conservatives will loudly accuse him of bowing to pressure from liberal forces. If he sticks with Braverman, he will indirectly adopt her right-wing populist statements.
Worse poll numbers
Either way, the dispute is once again overshadowing the political plans. Sunak wanted to leave the scandals of his predecessors Boris Johnson and Liz Truss behind him and score points with competence, integrity and stability. He has missed this goal, as a recent survey shows. Only 25 percent believe his government has integrity, and only slightly less consider it competent and effective. When Sunak took office a year ago, all values were significantly higher.
The fact that Sunak had installed Braverman back then had already been sharply criticized. She had resigned from the same post just a few days earlier because she had forwarded an official document from her personal email address. As a representative of the right wing, she was obviously too important for Sunak.
However, the Prime Minister left a loophole open. His spokesman confirmed that Braverman’s anti-police op-ed in The Times had not been approved by the government. The incident will be investigated, he emphasized. “We will provide an update when appropriate.” But there is no timetable.
I have been working in the news industry for over 6 years, first as a reporter and now as an editor. I have covered politics extensively, and my work has appeared in major newspapers and online news outlets around the world. In addition to my writing, I also contribute regularly to 24 Hours World.