The Prime Minister has finally sacked Suella Braverman. Her constant deviation from the government line has undermined No 10’s attempt to reset the political narrative this autumn. Her criticism of the police attracted condemnation from her predecessors and threatened the operational independence of the Met. At the same time, she won plaudits on the right. She came out yesterday to condemn the violence at the London protests on Saturday and praise the police. Her criticism of Tommy Robinson’s thugs was more muted. No 10 clearly felt that her habitual forays into the media were obscuring their plans for re-election. And they were.
The reshuffle is made more charged because of the Supreme Court’s expected ruling on the Rwanda refugee scheme this Wednesday. This could change the prevailing narrative that the government has failed to stop the boats crossing the Channel. The all-clear on sending them to the African country would allow it to say “we have a plan”, and force Labour to condemn a scheme that could finally begin. If the Supreme Court strikes down the plans, expect calls from Tories for the UK to quit the European Convention on Human Rights to grow louder – which is what the Rwanda scheme has previously been ruled to contravene. Braverman could lead the charge.
[See also: John Gray on the return of David Cameron]
All of which adds greater risk to Sunak’s decision to sack his Home Secretary. She defined her time in office by the mission to stop the boats. Any deviation from the mission will elicit a growl from her. But the question for No 10 is how much damage she will do outside government. Will she mount a resistance from the back benches? Does she have the parliamentary support to do so? Does the Conservative Party have the energy for another internal scrap? Braverman sought to inject a Faragist brand of politics into the Tory party. These protests have divided politics and she has positioned herself as the figurehead for those who look at them with horror. Her popularity among the membership gives her the ballast to continue that mission.
But my suspicion is that, without the credibility of office, her barbed interventions will get less attention – not least because the Prime Minister is as committed to stopping the boats as she is. But that all depends on how the rest of the reshuffle goes and what the Supreme Court decides.
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