Suella Braverman sacked after weekend clashes as far-right mobs rampaged

James Cleverly moved from Foreign Office to take interior ministry brief

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Suella Braverman has been sacked as Home Secretary by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak after making inflammatory comments about police and amid claims she “stoked unrest” during Saturday's pro-Palestinian protests.

Ms Braverman, who has courted controversy throughout her time in Cabinet and is believed to have designs on the leadership of the Conservative Party, wrote an article that was heavily critical of the police ahead of Saturday's pro-Palestine march in central London, which she wanted to be banned.

She has now been removed from the position of Home Secretary twice in just over a year after she was effectively sacked from Liz Truss' government following revelations she had leaked confidential Cabinet papers.

She was replaced by James Cleverly as Home Secretary as the reshuffle got underway on Monday morning.

David Cameron was appointed Foreign Secretary and will take seat in the House of Lords. Chancellor Jeremy Hunt will remain in his post.

Ms Braverman had been accused by opposition politicians, police and some party colleagues of interfering with the operational independence of the police and “emboldening” far-right counter-protesters.

She previously spoke of pro-Palestinian “mobs” and described Gaza demonstrations as “hate marches”, citing police bias for allowing Saturday's protest to go ahead on Armistice Day.

Mr Sunak asked her to leave government on Monday morning after coming under immense pressure to sack her, a little more than a year since she played a crucial role in him becoming Prime Minister.

Following her departure, Ms Braverman said “it has been the greatest privilege of my life to serve as Home Secretary”, adding: “I will have more to say in due course.”

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said the "buck stops" with Mr Sunak.

"Suella Braverman has now been sacked twice as Home Secretary," Ms Cooper tweeted.

"Rishi Sunak (should) never have reappointed her in first place. He was warned against it & was warned on the damage she was doing."

Sterling strengthened slightly against the euro and dollar on Monday after the news broke. The pound was last trading at $1.2243, while against the euro it stood at 87.33 pence, marginally higher on the day.

London police scuffle with far-right protesters ahead of pro-Palestinian rally

London police scuffle with far-right protesters ahead of pro-Palestinian rally

'Stoking tensions'

Officers made 145 arrests – mostly counter-protesters – and nine officers were injured as they prevented a violent crowd reaching the Cenotaph in central London on Saturday.

Police suggested Ms Braverman's comments were a “significant factor in sustained far-right attacks” on officers.

In a statement released on Saturday night, Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist said: “This operation took place in unique circumstances, against a backdrop of conflict in the Middle East, on Armistice Day, and following a week of intense debate about protest and policing. These all combined to increase community tensions.”

Ms Braverman doubled down on calls for pro-Palestinian protests to be stopped and warned that London's streets are “being polluted by hate, violence and anti-Semitism” and hit out at “sick” chants and placards at Saturday's march.

However, her remarks on Sunday made little mention of far-right counter-protesters.

In a tweet, Ms Braverman said that “multiple officers were injured doing their duty is an outrage”.

She added: “The sick, inflammatory and, in some cases, clearly criminal chants, placards and paraphernalia openly on display at the march mark a new low. Anti-Semitism and other forms of racism together with the valorising of terrorism on such a scale is deeply troubling.

“This can’t go on. Week by week, the streets of London are being polluted by hate, violence, and anti-Semitism. Members of the public are being mobbed and intimidated. Jewish people in particular feel threatened. Further action is necessary.”

Mr Sunak is understood to be tightening the laws on protests following the violence on Armistice Day.

His crackdown could also see laws on fireworks, smoke bombs and flares bolstered and new legislation to prevent protesters from climbing on statues, according to The Sun.

Police 'play favourites' with protest groups

James Cleverly is new UK Home Secretary after Suella Braverman sacked

James Cleverly is new UK Home Secretary after Suella Braverman sacked

In Thursday's article for The Times, Ms Braverman, 43, accused police of “playing favourites” with protest groups and referred to the pro-Palestine demonstrations which have taken place in London on consecutive Saturdays since the October 7 attack on Israel by Hamas as “hate marches”.

She also compared them to sectarian rallies held in Northern Ireland during the Troubles. Although a draft of the article was seen by Downing Street, amendments were not made before it was published.

It reflected her frustration with Met Police chief Sir Mark Rowley, who resisted pressure from senior Tories to ban the demonstration in the capital.

Amid the fallout, she was accused of “offending just about everyone”. While she maintains support from the right wing of her party, many colleagues were unwilling to give her public backing.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims said her “divisive comments that fuel hatred” had left British Muslim communities feeling unsafe.

The Home Secretary is “fanning the flames of hate and inspiring the far-right”, they wrote on social media platform X, formerly Twitter.

Conservative MP Geoffrey Clifton-Brown said on Friday: “We cannot carry on as we are on these very sensitive matters”, suggesting Ms Braverman's “unwise” comments should have been made in private to police.

Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said Ms Braverman's article was “reckless and irresponsible” while SNP’s Westminster leader Stephen Flynn described Ms Braverman is a “nasty and vindictive” politician who “really needs to go”.

A number of Northern Irish politicians called for her to be sacked due to her claim that the marches were “disturbingly reminiscent of Ulster”.

Colum Eastwood, the MP for Foyle and the leader of the nationalist SDLP, called her a “pound-shop Enoch Powell”, in reference to a 1960s Tory politician whose “rivers of blood” speech criticising the rate of immigration was widely interpreted as stirring racial hatred.

“She has managed to offend just about everyone – no mean feat in a divided society,” Mr Eastwood said. “The only appropriate action now is her removal from office.”

What Braverman wrote

In The Times article, Ms Braverman wrote: “I do not believe that these marches are merely a cry for help for Gaza.

“They are an assertion of primacy by certain groups – particularly Islamists – of the kind we are more used to seeing in Northern Ireland.

“Also disturbingly reminiscent of Ulster are the reports that some of Saturday's march group organisers have links to terrorist groups, including Hamas.”

Ms Braverman claimed there was “a perception that senior police officers play favourites when it comes to protesters”.

She said: “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?”

Braverman's controversial career

Her claims were only the latest inflammatory comment by the Home Secretary in recent days, which prompted frustration and unease among Conservative MPs.

A hard-liner popular with the authoritarian wing of the governing Conservative Party, she has in recent weeks declared multiculturalism a failed project and warned of a “hurricane” of migration heading to the UK.

She has accused the homeless of making a “lifestyle choice” by sleeping in tents on London's streets.

As Home Secretary she has led the UK government's plan to send asylum seekers who arrive in the country illegally to Rwanda.

Her departure is the third time she has left the government payroll.

She first quit ministerial office in 2018 over the soft Brexit plans of Theresa May, prime minister at the time.

She was sacked as Home Secretary towards the end of Liz Truss’s turbulent premiership for passing a confidential document to an MP before being reappointed by Mr Sunak eight days later.

Updated: November 13, 2023, 11:57 AM