Suella bites back

Is she planning to return with an even bigger bang?

With venom dripping from her pen in an open letter to Rishi Sunak after being sacked as home secretary, Suella Braverman departed frontline politics – for now – not with a whimper but an almighty bang. Not only did she blast the prime minister for having “manifestly and repeatedly failed to deliver” on key policies, Braverman also revealed how desperate Sunak had been to avoid running against Boris Johnson in a party vote to replace Liz Truss as PM. The former home secretary’s letter mentioned the “document” that sealed the deal she struck with Sunak – that in return for agreed commitments from him, she would persuade her own backers to deny Johnson the 100 MPs he needed to be on the ballot. Braverman claims Sunak ditched the terms of the deal once he was in office. She had specified hardline commitments on reducing legal migration, exemptions from the European Court of Human Rights, delivery of the Northern Ireland Protocol and statutory guidance on biological sex – “among other things”. She accused Sunak of a “betrayal” of his promise to do “whatever it takes” to stop the boats. So, did Braverman’s simmering resentment gradually build to the outpouring of controversial, divisive and inflammatory public statements that left Sunak with little choice but to give her the boot? Did Suella in fact want to be sacked? Her jibes included warnings of “the hurricane” of asylum seekers coming to these shores, claims that multiculturalism in the UK “has failed,” and that sleeping rough was a “lifestyle choice”.

She described marches calling for a ceasefire in Gaza as “hate marches” and, in an unauthorised newspaper article, criticised the way police handled pro-Palestinian “mobs”. Her comments were condemned by former police officers, by Labour and some Tory MPs, who accused her of “deliberately creating division”. Following clashes between protesters and police on Armistice Day, Braverman was sacked. But she retains significant swathes of supporters, especially among right-wing politicians and voters, who claim she voices what “the silent majority” believes. Will she be back to lead the Tories after general election defeat next year? Or might she, perhaps, return at the head of a new, unashamedly more right-wing party? Only time, and tactics, will tell.

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