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Rishi Sunak now needs Suella Braverman more than ever

Dominic Raab’s resignation means the Prime Minister is even more reliant on the Home Secretary to maintain support from the right.

By Rachel Wearmouth

When Rishi Sunak launched his Conservative leadership campaign last summer, it was Dominic Raab who introduced him. The Prime Minister’s reply to his deputy’s resignation – in which he spoke glowingly of his close political ally and expressed his “great sadness” – demonstrated that Sunak is keenly aware of the risk of making enemies.

Raab has wasted no time in going on the warpath, declaring of the independent report into his conduct that: “in setting the bar for bullying so low, this inquiry has set a dangerous precedent”.

Boris Johnson and Liz Truss, both of whom have joined Tory rebellions over onshore wind farms and Brexit, have so far failed to damage the PM and have relatively few acolytes. But Raab was one of the key figures at Sunak’s cabinet table who helped maintain support from the right of the Conservative Party.

[See also: Dominic Raab resigns following bullying report]

Raab’s resignation has placed a new level of power in the hands of another right-winger crucial to Sunak: Suella Braverman. The Home Secretary and former leadership candidate is a difficult character to control and has fallen foul of rules before. Braverman was sacked as home secretary by Liz Truss after just six weeks for breaching ministerial rules by sending an official document from her personal email account to a fellow Tory MP.

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Reports circulated in February that she was threatening to resign over Sunak’s Northern Ireland deal with the EU, while the former Tory chair Sayeeda Warsi has accused Braverman of using “racist rhetoric” around the issue of grooming gangs. Rumours persist in Westminster that Braverman retains leadership ambitions and does not fear destroying Sunak’s authority to get what she wants.

Few believe there is a serious threat to Sunak’s position before the next general election but, after Raab’s acrimonious exit, he is more exposed to Tory infighting. Keeping Braverman inside the tent is now crucial.

[See also: Diane Abbott has reignited Labour’s anti-Semitism row. Should the party forgive or forget her?]

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