As I write the Prime Minister must be seriously considering sacking his Home Secretary, Suella Braverman.
For 10 Downing Street, to openly reveal that the Home Secretary had not fully cleared her incendiary criticism of the Metropolitan Police with the PM is highly unusual and is likely to lead either to her resignation or sacking. If neither happens the Prime Minister will look appallingly weak as not one of his ministers has supported, the sort of language Braverman has been using. They have all gone in for “not the words I would use” or “the Home Secretary chooses how she expresses herself”.
More serious than the indiscipline is the words she uses and the potential serious consequences of them. Take the row over the pro-Palestinian marches this Remembrance weekend. The Metropolitan Police have been trying to handle the matter diplomatically. They know wading in to marches, taking place some way from the Cenotaph, and trying to make hundreds of arrests would play into the hands of extremists who always want to hijack such gatherings But the
Home Secretary’s branding of them as “hate marches” is likely to make matters worse.
Further, on the eve of their trickiest weekend for some time, Braverman has written that the Met are soft on Black Lives Matter and harder on right wing nationalists. If there is anything in this criticism, it should be dealt with privately. She needs to bear in mind that the police have operational independence from politicians and thank heavens they do.
You begin to wonder if she wants to get sacked on the basis that a flat King’s Speech has shown the game is up for Rishi Sunak. Better to snipe from the backbenches and prepare her leadership bid than go down with the ship. Braverman may be correct that the Tory Party will swing to the unelectable right for a few years, but she may have overdone it even for the rump of right-wing MPs and angry grassroots that will be the ones to choose the next leader.
Her comment that tent sleepers were making a lifestyle choice was cruel, and suggesting we were facing a hurricane of immigration was inflammatory.
Timing is everything in politics. Next week the judges will finally decide on the legality of the Rwanda scheme for illegal immigrants (what took them so long?). Braverman backs the idea and would be strengthened if it is approved.
The Prime Minister gave her a second chance, when she had already resigned as Home Secretary for breaking the ministerial code. He would be well advised to take the risk of right wing wrath and show there are still standards in this doomed government.