Suella Braverman: Rishi Sunak still has confidence in home secretary

  • By Joshua Nevett & Sam Francis
  • BBC Politics

Image caption,

Ms Braverman is responsible for the government department overseeing law and order

The prime minister has backed Suella Braverman in the face of calls to sack her over an article she wrote accusing the police of bias.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said Ms Braverman’s comments “are not words that I myself would have used”.

But Downing Street said Rishi Sunak still had “full confidence” in her.

A decision on the home secretary’s future is unlikely to be made ahead of the pro-Palestinian protest march and Armistice Day on Saturday.

In her article, Ms Braverman, who declined to talk to reporters earlier as she left her home, claimed aggressive right-wing protesters were “rightly met with a stern response”, while “pro-Palestinian mobs” were “largely ignored”.

She went on to say police were applying “double standards” and “played favourites when it comes to demonstrators”.

‘Direct the police’

It later emerged that she had defied a Downing Street request to tone the article down.

Downing Street said it had launched an informal investigation into how Mrs Braverman’s article came to be published without the changes they had requested.

But the prime minister’s spokeswoman said the government’s “collective focus” was on making sure the weekend’s events would go ahead without disruption.

Video caption,

Jeremy Hunt on Suella Braverman comments: “Not words I would have used”

Neil Basu, the former head of the UK’s counter-terrorism police, said Ms Braverman’s comments were “tantamount to effectively trying to direct the police”.

Speaking on the BBC’s Today Podcast, Mr Basu said the UK was “in danger of turning the police into an arm of the state directed by politicians”.

He said he would describe what is happening “as potentially the end of operational independence of policing unless people start to speak out”.

The Liberal Democrats, the SNP and some Conservative MPs have called for Mrs Braverman’s removal from office over the article. Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer accused Mrs Braverman of undermining the police and said Rishi Sunak was “too weak to do anything about it”.

Right-wing support

But Mrs Braverman’s allies on the right of the Conservative Party have rallied behind her, with the deputy party chairman, Lee Anderson, tweeting to say the home secretary was “guilty of saying what most of us are thinking”.

Tory MP Miriam Cates called the home secretary’s view very “mainstream in the rest of the UK,” and argued she “should be allowed to get on with her job in the way she chooses to do it”.

Video caption,

Home Secretary Suella Braverman is “out of control” – Sir Keir Starmer

The Times said changes to Mrs Braverman’s article requested by 10 Downing Street included removing a warning to the police not to take a “soft touch” approach at the Armistice Day protest, along with claims there was “ample evidence” senior police officers were biased.

The paper reported further requested changes, including suggestions that she remove a comparison to marches in Northern Ireland, were rejected by Ms Braverman.

The political row comes just days before Mrs Braverman finds out whether the government’s flagship Rwanda plan for migrants can go ahead.

The Metropolitan Police has said it expects a large rally on Saturday, sparking fears of violent clashes with counter-protesters.

Saturday is also Armistice Day, the anniversary of the end of World War One, which has prompted calls from the prime minister and others for the pro-Palestine march to be cancelled, on the grounds that it is “disrespectful”.

Met Police commissioner Sir Mark Rowley said protests may only be stopped if there is a threat of serious disorder, and that the “very high threshold” has not been reached.

Read More: Suella Braverman: Rishi Sunak still has confidence in home secretary

2023-11-10 13:56:01

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