The prime minister has shown that “he has a backbone” by sacking his controversial home secretary, south Asian Conservative parliamentarians and grassroots members have told Eastern Eye.
Rishi Sunak fired Suella Braverman on Monday (13), five days after she wrote a Times newspaper article in which she criticised the Met commissioner, Sir Mark Rowley, and his handling of pro-Gaza protests.
Sources who have spoken to this newspaper are confident that Sunak will survive despite his former home secretary’s excoriating resignation letter on Tuesday (14) [see below].
In it, Braverman accused the prime minister of “betrayal”, “wishful thinking” and to avoiding “having to make hard choices”.
She hinted that Sunak and she had a written agreement that he would carry out her wishes on policies including migration.
“Either your distinctive style of government means you are incapable of doing so,” she wrote.
“Or, as I must surely conclude now, you never had any intention of keeping your promises.
“Someone needs to be honest: your plan is not working, we have endured record election defeats, your resets have failed and we are running out of time.
“You need to change course urgently.”
Dozens of MPs threatened to quit if Sunak got rid of Braverman, but that has yet to happen.
But one former junior minister took to social media to denounce the prime minister and wrote a letter of no confidence to the chair of the influential 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady.
South Asian parliamentarians have backed the move.
“Rishi needs to keep his nerve and head,” said one close source to the PM.
“Suella’s gone and she could try to cause trouble from the back benches, but like Boris [Johnson former PM], she’ll slink away.
“Politics is the art of the possible, and every man and woman for themselves.
“I’ve been waiting for months for Rishi to sack her, she has undermined him at every turn, and I was furious when she criticised the police.
“We’re supposed to be the party of law and order, and here she is handing a gift to Labour.”
Braverman was “clearly out of control”, said another parliamentarian.
Party sources have told Eastern Eye that Downing Street did not authorise the attack on Rowley.
But it is not the first time Braverman has gone rogue, they said.
She called protesters who supported a ceasefire in the current Israel-Palestine “hate marchers”.
And the former home secretary took to X, formerly known as Twitter, to describe sleeping rough as “a lifestyle choice”.
“Every time she opened her mouth, she caused problems for Rishi,” said one south Asian source.
“She played to right of our party, those who don’t reflect the modern Tory party.
“It may be that some of the 200 thousand-odd paid-up party members didn’t want Rishi, but they don’t represent our voters up and down the country.
“Suella offered red meat to the right-wingers, but she not going to get us the red-wall voters.”
The 1922 Committee runs the process to choose the party leader and, in this case, the prime minister.
But the chair needs 15 per cent of MPs – in this case 53 – to send letters of no confidence before it triggers a leadership election.
Some sources have told this newspaper that Sunak dithered and looked weak.
They said he should have sacked Braverman last Thursday (9).
“He neeeed to grow a backbone much earlier,” said one unnamed Tory. “He prevaricated and so he looked weak, and people are going to ask what took him so long?”
Sources have told Eastern Eye that it was clear that Braverman was using her position to place herself as a natural leader should the Conservatives, as expected, lose next year’s general election.
The MP for Morley and Outwood in Yorkshire and the Humber, Dame Andrea Jenkyns, vented her anger by publishing her letter to the 1922 Committee on social media.
Sunak sacked Jenkyns in October 2022 as a junior minister.
She described the prime minister’s resignation from the Johnson administration as “Machiavellian” and “unforgivable”.
But, she tweeted, “[T]o purge the centre-right from his cabinet and then sack Suella who was the only person in the cabinet with the balls to speak the truth of the appalling state of our streets and a two-tier policing system that leaves Jewish community in fear for their lives and safety.”
The question now is whether others follow suit.
“There’s a lot of bluff and bluster in our parliamentary party,” said another Westminster source.
“We’re 20-plus per cent down in the polls, we’ve had three different prime ministers since the last general election, and two of them in just over a year.
“Why on earth would you show the country we truly are unelectable by getting rid of our third leader?
“We really do love eating our young, don’t we?”
In a surprise move, Sunak brought back the man who enabled his political career, David Cameron.
The former prime minister will become a life peer, letting him take up one of the big-four offices of state, foreign secretary, vacated by James Cleverly who is now home secretary.
“Cleverly has a tough job,” said a source close to Sunak, “on Wednesday (16), the Supreme Court will rule on whether we can send asylum seekers to Rwanda.
“Immigration is going to be a big deal in the next general election.
“But bringing David (Cameron) back is a stroke of genius, he knows the world stage and the world leaders know him.
“He will play well in the EU negotiations, Ukraine and may even reset the relationship with China, containing her rather than confronting her.
“It’s a clever move because the media are concentrating on David rather than Suella, very clever.”
Another said that Cameron could be seen as the elder statesman, outperforming Sunak.
“Rishi’s seen as a technocrat because he’s a details man.
“We don’t get to see warm side of him, what he did with Elon Musk [CEO of X], showed his geeky, but real, side on artificial intelligence, for example.
“David’s more a more natural populist, but the problem happens if he outshines Rishi.”
Braverman was not the only casualty in the reshuffle.
Therese Coffey went to Downing Street as environment secretary and left as a backbencher.
Sunak sacked Rachel Maclean as housing minister.
Nick Gibb quit as education minister.
Neil O’Brien decided he had had enough as levelling-up minister.
Will Quince resigned as health minister.
Jess Norman is no longer the transport minister.
Jeremy Quin is out as paymaster general.
Georg Freeman resigned as science minister.
Paul Scully lost his job as technology minister.
Steve Double left his post of lord commissioner to the treasury.
“Rishi needs a miracle, if he’s to win the next general election,” said a source close to the prime minister.
“The economy, getting inflation halved, controlling migration and small boats, ending the war in Ukraine, and the current tensions in the Middle East, might do it.
“If he can get all those done then he might, just might, continue to be our prime minister.
“Or he can hope that the country doesn’t trust Keir Starmer or Labour’s offer, either way it’s looking tough.”
Some in the party are also concerned that the great offices of state, prime minister, the chancellor, home secretary and foreign secretary, are now held by men.
That has not happened since 2009, in a Gordon Brown Labour government.
“We’ve shown the way in terms of diversity, with three female prime ministers, the first south Asian prime minister, chancellors, home secretaries and a black foreign secretary,” said a grassroots member.
“It feels as if we’ve gone backwards.”
A “betrayal of our agreement”
Suella Braverman’s letter in full.
Rishi’s re-set could cause rifts in a party facing an election nightmare
To her party, Suella Braverman, was able to say things which the prime minister thought but could not voice, writes Barnie Choudhury.
To his critics, Rishi Sunak was the man who stabbed Boris Johnson in the back and someone whose party did not elect him as its leader.
Braverman gave him a shield and a way to keep the right quiet.
Now, though, Sunak has got rid of the right’s standard bearer.
According to sources who have spoken with Eastern Eye, questions remain.
How did Braverman get away with what she did for so long, and why did it take the prime minister hesitate so publicly to remove her from one of the great offices of state?
“Don’t forget that Rishi owed her,” said one south Asian parliamentarian. “He’d already lost against Liz Truss, and when she resigned, Rishi faced another fight against Penny Mordaunt.
“The last thing he needed was another bloody nose from the members.
“Suella backed him, and that was a game changer.”
Sue-Ellen Cassiana Braverman KC, was born in Harrow, north-west London and was named after one of the female characters in the American soap opera, Dallas.
Her parents, Uma, a Hindu, and Christie Fernandes, a Christian, emigrated from Mauritius and Kenya respectively.
Braverman’s mother was an NHS nurse and Tory councillor who also ran to become an MP.
The former home secretary read law at Cambridge and was chair of the university’s Conservative Association.
In 2005, she stood against Keith Vaz in Leicester East but lost by about 16,000 votes.
It would be another 10 years before Suella Fernandes, as she was then, won the safe Conservative seat of Fareham in Hampshire.
In 2016, she was a firm Brexiteer, reflecting the wishes of her constituents.
The following year, the parliamentarian became the chair of the European Research Group, made up of pro-leave Conservative MPs.
After the 2017 general election she was appointed as a junior minister by Theresa May, but she resigned the following year.
Also in 2018, the Buddhist married Rael Braverman, a Jew, at the House of Commons.
Their children George and Gabriella were born in 2019 and 2021.
When Liz Truss became prime minister in September 2022, she appointed Braverman as the home secretary, responsible for overseeing UK borders and policing.
At a fringe event at that year’s Conservative Party conference, she said, “I would love to have a front page of the Telegraph with a plane taking off to Rwanda, that’s my dream, it’s my obsession.”
Around the same time, she used her oratory skills to great effect.
“I am afraid that it is the Labour Party, the Lib Dems, the coalition of chaos, the Guardian-reading, tofu-eating wokerati and, dare I say, the anti-growth coalition that we have to thank for the disruption we are seeing on our roads today,” she told parliament.
But hubris is the downfall of many.
The next day, she resigned after sending an official document from her personal email, which is against the rules.
Yet, like a game of snakes and ladders, six days afterwards, Sunak appointed her as … home secretary, where an emboldened Braverman never shied away from controversy.
In March 2023, she said with a straight face, “There are 100 million people around the world who could qualify for protection under our current laws.
“Let us be clear – they are coming here.”
When questioned about the figure, Braverman told the Daily Mail, there was “likely billions” eager to come to the UK.
The problem is that the experts do not agree – the UK receives far fewer asylum seekers than other countries.
Lest we forget that Braverman’s parents were immigrants to a welcoming Britain, she concluded in September (26) that, “Multiculturalism makes no demands of the incomer to integrate – it has failed.”
Many would have heard alarm bells when Number 10 and her colleagues distanced themselves from their comments, but not Braverman.
She ploughed on regardless, this time targeting pro-Palestinian demonstrators claiming their chants amounted to antisemitic attacks.
“There’s only one way to describe those marches – they are hate marches,” she declared.
Then came that infamous post on social media which angered many an ordinary Tory.
“We cannot allow our streets to be taken over by rows of tents occupied by people, many of them from abroad, living on the streets as a lifestyle choice.”
Sources who spoke to Eastern Eye were incandescent with rage – telling us that Braverman had resurrected the moniker of Conservatives being the “nasty party”.
Finally, the article which ended her tenure as home secretary, where she accused the police of playing favourites, being harsher on the right than the left.
On Saturday, London saw the far-right English Defence League (EDL) descend on the capital, causing mayhem.
The man who led the police operation, Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist said, “The extreme violence from the right-wing protestors towards the police today was extraordinary and deeply concerning.
“They arrived early, stating they were there to protect monuments, but some were already intoxicated, aggressive and clearly looking for confrontation.
“This group were largely football hooligans from across the UK and spent most of the day attacking or threatening officers who were seeking to prevent them being able to confront the main march.
“Many in these groups were stopped and searched and weapons including a knife, a baton and knuckleduster were found as well as class A drugs.”
And yet Braverman concentrated her fire on the 300,000 pro-Palestinian demonstrators.
“This can’t go on,” she posted.
“Week by week, the streets of London are being polluted by hate, violence, and antisemitism.
“Members of the public are being mobbed and intimidated.
“Jewish people in particular feel threatened.
“Further action is necessary.”
It is clear that Braverman will not “slink away”.
Instead, she will use every opportunity to remind the right of her party that should the Tories lose the next election, she is the natural leader in waiting.
Her letter and implied threats reveal her strategy – death by a thousand pricks of a toxic needle.
The biggest challenge facing her party is whether the rank-and-file of the “broad church” will allow Braverman to derail and already precarious election campaign, where their party is trailing disastrously behind Labour.
For now, Braverman will not be the one who will influence policing or migration in our country.
But only a fool would be writing her political obituary.
If Lord Cameron has shown one thing, it is that politicians come, politicians go…only to return when we least expect it.