How do you solve a problem like Suella Braverman? Home Secretary's fate hangs in the balance

10 November 2023, 15:33

How does Rishi Sunak solve a problem like Suella? asks Natasha Clark
How does Rishi Sunak solve a problem like Suella? asks Natasha Clark. Picture: Alamy
Natasha Clark

By Natasha Clark

Rishi Sunak is considering Suella Braverman's future today after Downing Street revealed she had not signed off her article about the Met Police being biased.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

But it sounds like we might not hear more until after Remembrance weekend, as the PM takes his time to decide how to act.

After all - ditching your Home Secretary on the eve of a potentially volatile weekend would not be a sensible more.

Now we will see an awkward moment as the pair are forced to stand side-by-side at the cenotaph to remember the war dead, and the weekend papers will be filled with MPs firing off their thoughts about the Home Secretary's future.

But No10's revelation that the Home Secretary had not fully signed off her article in The Times where she accused the Met of bias, has set the PM up to act.

He now has a choice of whether to give her a slap on the wrist and accept an apology, or to move her from her job.

Let's not forget, Ms Braverman has been no stranger to controversy.

Her Washington speech last month sparked a backlash when she suggested that being gay or a woman was not enough to gain protection under the UN convention.

But the PM has a long history of forgiveness.

He allowed her to return to the Cabinet after she was fired by Liz Truss for sending a private email about government policy to a backbench MP.

He also accepted her apologies when she asked civil servants to try and arrange her a private speed awareness course.

Why? The age old saying that it's better to have your enemies closer

in the last week alone she's said homelessness is not a "choice" for some, and described protests as "hate marches".

But allies of the Home Secretary say she has not broken the ministerial code as she was not making government policy with her Times article, and that No10 did have sight of her article before it went out.

If the PM wants to, there is wriggle room to climb down.

Next week's Supreme Court judgement on Rwanda will inflame tensions even more - and could be the flashpoint where Braverman walks or is pushed out.

MPs say the Home Secretary wants to say Britain should leave the ECHR if the Government loses the cases, but the PM disagrees.

Her views on leaving the convention are no secret, which could give either side a convenient reason for her to leave.

Whether she is better off inside the tent or out, is up for debate in Government.

The Home Secretary has a core group of loyal supporters - noted in my recently revealed WhatsApp row - which could cause trouble for the PM in the months ahead of an election.

But the thinking growing in Government appears to be that the group may not be as large or influential as previously thought.

As one top MP told me: "We can't have someone inside the tent constantly p***ing on everyone inside the tent."