UK PM under pressure to sack Suella Braverman as Home Secretary
London: British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is under pressure to sack his Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, as the row surrounding her controversial newspaper article attacking the Metropolitan Police over its handling of Israel-Hamas protests in London continues to gain momentum on Friday.
While Sunak’s official spokesperson at 10 Downing Street has said that he has “full confidence” in the Home Secretary, they did confirm that the contents of ‘The Times’ Op-Ed did not have the full clearance of her boss.
The harshly worded piece on Wednesday attacked the Met Police for having “double standards” and “playing favourites” by not taking tougher action against pro-Palestinian protesters when they turned aggressive.
“The words that she used are not words that I myself would have used,” UK Chancellor Jeremy Hunt told broadcasters when asked about the row.
While clearly distancing himself from her stance, the senior Cabinet minister stressed that he has a “productive relationship with her as a colleague” and reiterated that Sunak “has full confidence in her”.
It comes as the Opposition Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats and even some sections of Braverman’s own Conservative Party are calling for her removal from office over her actions, which could be a breach of the ministerial code for ignoring prime ministerial approval before publication of an article.
“Suella Braverman… is entitled to her views but she should make them privately within the Cabinet meeting and the government should come to a clear position,” said Darren Jones, one of the Labour shadow ministers calling for Sunak to sack Braverman.
The Labour MP said the position she put forward in her Times article is “fundamentally in breach of her responsibility of being the Home Secretary” because it is for the police to decide “operationally how to maintain order on our streets”.
The row is playing out as it emerged that more than 1,000 officers from forces around the UK will be drafted in to help the Met Police this weekend, amid intense political pressure to prevent any disruption to Remembrance events.
Armistice Day on Saturday marks an annual commemorative event on Whitehall, near Downing Street, where wreaths are laid and a national silence is observed in memory of Britain’s World War martyrs.
The police had been under pressure to ban a planned march by pro-Palestinian groups on Saturday but have said that their intelligence did not merit an outright ban as the route of the march did not overlap with the ceremony on Whitehall.
“In policing, we need the space to make difficult operational decisions in an independent manner. The decisions that we take are not easy ones, but we do so impartially, without fear or favour, and in line with both the law and our authorised professional practice,” said Gavin Stephens, who is chairman of England’s National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC).
Thousands of protesters have been taking to the streets of London and other major UK cities over the past few weekends, calling for a ceasefire in the conflict in Gaza. Several arrests have been made as some splinter groups resorted to aggression, including racially motivated attacks and injuring officers on duty by releasing fireworks into the crowd.
“There have been dignified vigils in London held by Britain’s Jewish community, but that is not what has tested our capacity to maintain public order. It is the pro-Palestinian movement that has mobilised tens of thousands of angry demonstrators and marched them through London every weekend. From the start, these events have been problematic, not just because of violence around the fringes but because of the highly offensive content of chants, posters and stickers. This is not a time for naivete,” wrote Braverman in her Op-Ed.
The Indian-origin minister, known for making contentious statements, went on to condemn the “hate marchers – a phrase I do not resile from – [who] intend to use Armistice Day to parade through London in yet another show of strength”.