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His fate is sealed by Sunak

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As predicted two days ago, Rishi Sunak caved in to outside pressure and sacked Home Secretary Suella Braverman. Weak leaders have a habit of choosing the greater of two evils, and the writing’s usually on the wall when a prime minister expresses their ‘confidence’ in a colleague.

Fearing a revolt from the right of the party and desperate to secure the borders (no, of course not the national ones, but those of the Downing Street inner sanctum), Sunak has rapidly undertaken the obligatory cabinet shake-up. There’s nothing the card sharps at Tory HQ enjoy more than the merry-go-round of a reshuffle, judging by the propensity of the Great Offices of State to change hands of late (26 times since the 2015 election). 

Not quite having the stomach to call in the Army, Sunak has drafted in Army veteran and former Foreign Secretary James Cleverly to replace Braverman at the Home Office. Cleverly, who backed Sunak’s bid for the leadership last year, is no doubt seen as a safe pair of hands at the tiller. He opened his tenure as Home Secretary with the emphasis on national security, which makes me think it’s very much (ineffectual) business as usual: “It is an honour to be appointed as Home Secretary. The goal is clear. My job is to keep people in this country safe.”

Plus ça change, eh? 

The Foreign Office replacement however came somewhat from left field, as David Cameron was recalled to the Cabinet. No doubt Sunak is anxious to quell a rebellion by bringing Cameron’s wealthy experience to the table, but I must confess I half expected Liz Truss to be announced as minister for economic stability, and Boris Johnson to be declared minister of cake, to round the party off:

While I have been out of front-line politics for the last seven years, I hope that my experience—as Conservative Leader for eleven years and prime minister for six—will assist me in helping the prime minister.

The Cameron designation may steady the ship in the short term, but the exact wisdom of the appointment remains to be seen. Only last month for instance, Sunak was attempting to pass himself off as the prime minister ‘for change.’ Whatever a Cameron renaissance bodes for the country, ‘change’ isn’t likely to be on the cards. 

Suella sacked

VIDEO: Rishi Sunak's 'fate is sealed' as five Tory factions rise against him | Stories of Our Times
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As for Braverman, the official line is that she was brought down thanks to her ‘unauthorised’ article in The Times, and her ‘inflammatory’ choice of ‘language’ to talk about migrants, marches, and Muslims. In reality, she’s simply been too vocally conservative—and that’s the one thing this (nominally) Tory administration cannot stand. In fact, if there’s one thing we’ve learned from the past 13 years of government, it’s that the Conservative Party is no place for conservatism. 

This is what she actually said in her Times article, the truth of which was confirmed over the weekend by a former Met officer.:

Unfortunately, there is a perception that senior police officers play favourites when it comes to protesters. During COVID, why was it that lockdown objectors were given no quarter by public order police yet Black Lives Matters demonstrators were enabled, allowed to break rules and even greeted with officers taking the knee?

Right-wing and nationalist protesters who engage in aggression are rightly met with a stern response yet pro-Palestinian mobs displaying almost identical behaviour are largely ignored, even when clearly breaking the law? I have spoken to serving and former police officers who have noted this double standard.

While Sunak’s dismissal of Braverman is not unexpected, it’s hard to see how this ends well for him. What message for instance does he think he’s sending his core vote, or the Red Wall for that matter? Say what you like about Suella and her rhetoric, but the voters agree with her. More than half of Britons consider the migrant crossings to be an ‘invasion.’ Three-quarters of Tory voters supported her calls for the Armistice Day protest to be banned over the weekend, and it was Braverman who received a standing ovation at the party conference. 

In sacking her, Sunak has effectively sealed the Tory Party fate come next year’s general election. You cannot indirectly call your core voters ‘racists’ by dismissing a popular home secretary, and expect there to be no repercussions at the ballot box. Sure enough, the rumblings of insurrection are already at hand. Sunak had already been warned of a mutiny were he to sack Suella, which may now materialise. 

Backbencher Andrea Jenkyns expressed her support for Braverman, commenting “sacked for speaking the truth. Bad call by Rishi, caving in to the Left,” while others have offered their support for the PM. ‘Moderate’ Conservative Rory Stewart, who would probably find himself more at home on the Liberal Democrat benches, claimed the sacking was a “brave move,” before acknowledging “the PM now has to win a tough fight with his own party. This is just the beginning.”

For Rishi, it may however be the beginning of the end. Having performed lamentably on his five key pledges (the standard by which he asked voters to judge him, after all), this is almost certainly the last straw. The boats have not been stopped, NHS waiting lists are at a record high, and the dire financial straits show no signs of abating. Conservative voters may overlook many things, but they do not appreciate broken promises—nor will they easily forget a home secretary being ousted for simply telling the truth. 

The only thing which remains to be seen now is what happens come 2024. After the inevitable Tory wipe out, will the Conservatives emerge reinvigorated, cleared of the pinkos that so infest their ranks, or will an alternative vehicle like the Reform Party gain some traction? Either way, whether as leader or as shadow minister, Suella Braverman is certainly going to be playing a larger role than Sunak. Perhaps the home secretary got out at the right time after all?


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