Rishi Sunak has sacked Suella Braverman as home secretary after she accused Metropolitan Police chiefs of bias in their handling of the pro-Palestine protests.
Her sacking was welcomed by Tory moderates who had called on the PM to fire Ms. Braverman when she controversially claimed the police were “playing favourites.”.
But Mr. Sunak has been told to “prepare for war” and warned that the move could provoke a full-scale revolt by more than 50 of her right-wing supporters, keen for her to succeed Mr. Sunak as party leader.
Following Ms. Braverman’s resignation on Monday morning, James Cleverly was appointed home secretary, and in an unexpected move, former Tory PM David Cameron was nominated as his replacement as foreign secretary.
In order to “strengthen his team in government to deliver long-term decisions for a brighter future,” Mr. Sunak is undergoing a change, according to Tory Headquarters.
It happens after Ms. Braverman provoked controversy by accusing the Met of showing partiality, leaving her vulnerable to allegations that she encouraged far-right thugs to stage violent protests at the Cenotaph over the weekend.
She doubled down on the comments on Sunday night, claiming Britain’s streets were being “polluted by hate, violence, and antisemitism”.
After Armistice Day commemorations were disrupted by far-right thugs, Ms Braverman condemned only the “protesters and counter protesters”.
Responding to her sacking, Ms Braverman said: “It has been the greatest privilege of my life to serve as home secretary.” Ominously for Mr Sunak, she added: “I will have more to say in due course.”
In a sign of bitter divisions have been reignited, the former Tory minister Andrea Jenkyns said Ms Braverman had been “sacked for speaking the truth”. The right-winger said it was a “bad call by Rishi caving in to the left”.
Jacob Rees-Mogg described the sacking of Ms Braverman as a “mistake”. And he said Mr Cameron was a “highly intelligent, capable individual” – but warned that his return could push some voters to Reform, the successor to the Brexit Party.
Mr Sunak should “prepare for war” following the sacking of Ms. Braverman, according to the former Tory MP Neil Parish. The right-winger said: “Rishi Sunak better prepare for war I think because of course she is very much Suella, the standard bearer of the right of the party.”
And David Campbell Bannerman, chair of Tory members’ group the Conservative Democratic Organisation, said on Monday that Conservative MPs were organising behind the scenes and “the numbers are now there” for a no confidence vote in Mr Sunak.
It currently requires 53 letters of no confidence in Mr Sunak – 15 per cent of the party – going to the Tories’ 1922 committee to trigger a vote in his leadership.
But a senior Tory MP told The Independent said the idea 53 Tory MPs would send a no-confidence vote as “nonsense” – saying Braverman had “nothing like” 53 backers. They said the “vast majority” of Tory MPs were against any change of leadership.
Senior Tory MP Stephen Hammond has said the right-wingers angry about Ms Braverman’s sacking don’t have the numbers to oust Rishi Sunak – despite claims more than 50 are ready to send no-confidence letters in the PM.
“All too often the right has shown itself to be well organised and noisy so that the impact is somewhat larger than the reality of their numbers,” Mr Hammond told The Independent – who said the sacking of Ms Braverman was “completely correct”.
“There may be lots of noise again. However, the PM has chosen to make this a more centrist and centre-right government which will guarantee him more support amongst colleagues.”
However, the moderates had issued a warning, stating that it would be “disgraceful” to leave Ms. Braverman in office following her overt rejection of the PM’s authority in appeals to the right. “Rejoice,” a senior Tory MP told The Independent following her dismissal.
Tobias Ellwood, a senior Tory, has praised Mr. Cameron’s appointment and Ms. Braverman’s dismissal. He told The Independent that ending Ms. Braverman’s appeals to right-wing members presented an opportunity to develop a “centre-right vision that looks beyond our party base.”
John Stevenson MP, leader of the Tories’ Northern Research Group, told The Independent Mr Sunak was right to sack her. “The way she was conducting herself was not right for a home secretary.”
No 10 did not approve the final text an incendiary op-ed for The Times Ms Braverman wrote, with Mr Sunak’s officials’ requests for changes ignored by the home secretary.
Many Tory MPs believed the radical right-winger was trying to get fired to further her leadership ambitions – having attacked Palestinian “hate marches” and describing homelessness as a “lifestyle choice”.
Her article about Saturday’s Gaza rally – in which she also compared the pro-Palestine protest to extremist rallies in Northern Ireland – had sparked another major row within the Tory party.
The home secretary was branded as “out of control” by Labour, and Mr. Sunak was challenged to fire her or declare whether he agreed with her opinions.
Labour also charged Ms. Braverman of “whipping up division” and “sowing the seeds of hatred and distrust” that led to the violence following the far right’s clashes with police on Armistice Day.
Home Secretary Ms. Braverman was accused by Sir Keir of “demeaning the office,” and shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper asked Mr. Sunak to fire her.
“Right-wing and nationalist protesters who engage in aggression are rightly met with a stern response, yet pro-Palestinian mobs displaying almost identical behaviour are largely ignored, even when clearly breaking the law?” Ms. Braverman said in her historic opinion piece.