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Braverman: A string of provocative comments during brief stint as home secretary

She was in the role for 43 full days.

19 October 2022

Suella Braverman lasted just six weeks as home secretary and left the post a day after an outburst against “tofu-eating wokerati”.

In the 43 full days she was in office, Ms Braverman attracted attention on several occasions for her provocative statements.

The latest came on Tuesday when she accused opposition parties of being a “coalition of chaos”, during a debate in Parliament on the Public Order Bill, which aims to crack down on disruptive protests like those carried out by groups such as Insulate Britain and Just Stop Oil.

She told the Commons: “It’s the Guardian-reading, tofu-eating wokerati, dare I say, the anti-growth coalition that we have to thank for the disruption that we are seeing on our roads today.”

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper branded Ms Braverman’s words “astonishing”, adding: “The home secretary actually talked about a coalition of chaos – we can see it in front of us as we speak.”

At the Conservative Party conference earlier this month Ms Braverman told a fringe event she would “love to be here claiming victory, I would love to be having a front page of the Telegraph with a plane taking off to Rwanda, that’s my dream, that’s my obsession”.

She said it would be “amazing” if the first UK flight carrying migrants to the African country could take off by Christmas, but added: “If I’m honest, I think it’s going to take longer.”

The barrister had risen through the Tory ranks to her most senior government appointment to date, having previously said the courts should stay out of politics and criticising the civil service for being too “woke”.

Earlier this year she was the first person to launch a bid to become the new prime minister after Boris Johnson’s departure, but was knocked out of the race and decided to back Liz Truss.

Conservative leadership bid
Suella Braverman made a bid to become prime minister earlier this year (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Ms Braverman held on to her place in the cabinet and gained a promotion to home secretary, taking over from Priti Patel.

She had been made the Government’s most senior lawyer in February 2020, taking the role of attorney general amid Mr Johnson’s growing battle with the judiciary.

During this time she became the first cabinet-level minister to take maternity leave after special legislation had to be passed by Parliament to allow her to take time away from her ministerial duties.

The 42-year-old – the MP for Fareham in Hampshire since 2015 – studied law at the University of Cambridge before gaining a masters at the Sorbonne in Paris. She also qualified as an attorney in New York and was called to the bar in Britain in 2005, specialising in public law and judicial review.

As a barrister she has defended the Home Office in immigration cases, the Parole Board in challenges from prisoners, and the Ministry of Defence over injuries sustained in battle.

In a comment piece for the Conservative Home website two years ago, the Brexit supporter said Parliament must “retrace power ceded to the courts”.

The previous year she had told Newsnight she hoped legal reforms would restore the principle of “judicial deference”, adding: “Which means that our courts and our judges generally stay out of politics.”

The seeds of the Government’s battle with the courts were sown during the Brexit rows, when campaigner Gina Miller successfully challenged the Government over then-prime minister Theresa May’s right to trigger Article 50 without a vote in Parliament.

A Supreme Court ruling in 2019 that Mr Johnson’s decision to suspend Parliament was unlawful fuelled Tory suspicions about judicial activism.

Since then the Government has come under fire for seeking to blame “left-wing activist” lawyers for challenging its decisions through the courts, particularly those involving immigration and asylum cases – something Ms Patel reiterated in her resignation letter to Ms Johnson.

Earlier this year, Ms Braverman came under fire for saying she was considering whether to refer the case of four people cleared of tearing down a statue of slave trader Edward Colston to the Court of Appeal.

She later defended the comments saying it was “entirely” within her remit to do so, after the acquittal prompted a debate about the criminal justice system because the defendants, dubbed the Colston Four, opted to stand trial in front of a jury and did not deny involvement in the incident.

They claimed the presence of the statue was a hate crime so it was not an offence to remove it.

Ms Braverman is also said to have criticised the civil service for being too “woke”, reportedly lashing out earlier this year at the decision by the Government Legal Department to go on “divisive” diversity training at taxpayers’ expense.

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