To no one’s surprise, Suella Braverman wasted no time in lashing out at UK prime minister Rishi Sunak who had fired her as home secretary for her intemperate remarks about demonstrators and the homeless. In what has been described as a ‘brutal’ three-page letter, she accuses Sunak of being a feckless betrayer of promises made to her to gain her support, and who would never have become prime minister without it.
The prime minister has also been accused by a group of “red wall” and rightwing Conservatives of abandoning the voters who brought the party to power in 2019, as anger among some backbenchers grew over Braverman’s sacking and the surprise return of David Cameron.
In her letter, Braverman claimed that Sunak had agreed to a secret pact to introduce key measures to secure her backing during the Tory leadership contest in October 2022, against Boris Johnson, but then “betrayed” the country by failing to deliver.
These included policies to cut legal immigration, override the European convention on human rights (ECHR) to stop small boats crossing the Channel, deliver key post-Brexit laws and toughen up guidance for schools on transgender issues.
“Despite you having been rejected by a majority of party members during the summer leadership contest and thus having no personal mandate to be prime minister, I agreed to support you because of the firm assurances you gave me on key policy priorities,” she wrote.
She added: “This was a document with clear terms to which you agreed in October 2022 during your second leadership campaign. I trusted you … Our deal was no mere promise over dinner, to be discarded when convenient and denied when challenged.
“You have manifestly and repeatedly failed to deliver on every single one of these key policies. Either your distinctive style of government means you are incapable of doing so. Or, as I must surely conclude now, you never had any intention of keeping your promises.”
I have no idea of how much support Braverman has with the Conservative members of the House of Commons. She is clearly going to be a thorn in the side of Sunak, sniping at him constantly. Sunak must know her well enough to have expected this kind of attack. This is why I was surprised that Sunak fired her instead of taking the advice that “One should keep one’s friends close and enemies closer” (attributed to Sun Tzu and made popular by Michael Corleone in The Godfather: Part 2) and keeping her in the cabinet. At least on paper, being a cabinet minister requires some level of message discipline and public support for the prime minister, whereas as a backbencher she can be an attention-grabbing bomb-thrower, a role that she clearly relishes, somewhat like Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor-Greene over here.
To add to Sunak’s woes, the supreme court today ruled that his deportation plan for asylum seekers is unlawful.
Rishi Sunak’s key immigration policy has been dealt a blow after the UK’s highest court rejected the government’s plans to deport people seeking asylum to Rwanda.
Five judges at the supreme court unanimously upheld an appeal court ruling that found there was a real risk of deported refugees having their claims in the east African country wrongly assessed or being returned to their country of origin to face persecution.
The ruling undermines one of the prime minister’s key pledges: to “stop the boats”. The government claimed that the £140m Rwanda scheme would be a key deterrent for growing numbers of asylum seekers reaching the UK via small boats travelling across the Channel, a claim that refugee charities have rejected.
Another thing that puzzles me is why Sunak brought David Cameron back as foreign secretary. He clearly wanted him badly enough, since he was willing to rush through his appointment to the House of Lords. But what exactly does Cameron bring that is so essential? As a former prime minister, Cameron has some knowledge but is that sufficient to overcome his liabilities? As the leader of the Remain campaign that lost and led to his resignation, he must surely be viewed with suspicion by a party that is dominated by the Leave faction. Doesn’t Sunak weaken his own position by aligning himself with Cameron?
Maybe someone who is more knowledgeable of UK politics can provide an explanation.