UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak dismissed his British-Indian Home Secretary Suella Braverman amid ongoing speculation, in a cabinet reshuffle on Monday. The decision came in the wake of a contentious newspaper article, criticising the Metropolitan Police, published without clearance from Sunak, according to reports from 10 Downing Street.
Suella Braverman, a 43-year-old Cabinet minister of Goan origin, has been embroiled in controversy during her tenure in the senior UK Cabinet role. Most recently, she accused the Met Police of showing favouritism in handling aggressive Israel-Gaza protests in an article in The Times, placing Sunak in a challenging position.
Facing criticism from members of his Conservative Party and the Opposition, the British Prime Minister took action after concerns were raised about Braverman’s perceived breach of the ministerial code.
In an op-ed, the Home Secretary levelled accusations against the London Metropolitan Police, claiming they displayed bias in favour of pro-Palestinian supporters. She criticised the police for allegedly treating “pro-Palestinian mobs” differently compared to right-wing and nationalist protesters.
Describing pro-Palestinian demonstrations as “hate marches”, she advocated for blocking Saturday’s event in deference to Armistice Day commemorations marking the end of World War I. According to Politico, her remarks exceeded Sunak’s own criticisms, and Downing Street had not cleared her statements.
In her op-ed, Braverman expressed concern about perceived favouritism among senior police officers when dealing with protesters. She disputed the notion that the marches were solely a plea for Gaza, drawing parallels to rallies in Northern Ireland.
Critics, including various politicians, criticised Braverman for her use of divisive and inflammatory language. The Opposition raised questions about her judgement, probing top officers. Labour Leader Keir Starmer asserted that Sunak was “too weak” to handle the situation. Sunak faced a significant dilemma as sacking Braverman, a favourite of the Conservative right and a potential future leader, could potentially provoke its own backlash.
Scotland’s First Minister, Humza Yousaf, has called for the resignation of Suella Braverman, the overseer of law enforcement in Britain. Yousaf stated on X, formerly known as Twitter, “The far-right has been emboldened by the Home Secretary. She has spent her week fanning the flames of the division. They are now attacking the Police on Armistice Day. The Home Secretary’s position is untenable.”
The dramatic sacking of Braverman follows violent incidents in London on Saturday, where far-right counter-protesters clashed with police while vowing to protect war memorials from pro-Palestinian demonstrations. At least 145 people were arrested as a result.
In an attempt to reverse her stance, Braverman issued a statement saying, “Our brave police officers deserve the thanks of every decent citizen for their professionalism in the face of violence and aggression from protesters and counter-protesters in London yesterday. That multiple officers were injured doing their duty is an outrage.”
She expressed concern about the “sick, inflammatory, and, in some cases, clearly, criminal chants, placards, and paraphernalia” at the march, describing the display of antisemitism, racism, and the valourisation of terrorism as deeply troubling.
Over 300,000 pro-Palestinian demonstrators peacefully marched through central London on Saturday, while clashes erupted between right-wing counter-protesters and police. The march took place amid a week of heated debate over whether to permit the event during Britain’s commemoration of fallen soldiers in the war.
The skirmishes between police and counter-protesters, bearing the Union flag of Great Britain and the red-and-white flag of England, seemed to validate concerns that Braverman’s comments would attract right-wing elements seeking a pretext to confront pro-Palestinian marchers.
Police characterised the counter-protesters as primarily soccer “hooligans” from various parts of the UK who spent the day confronting officers attempting to prevent them from attacking the march. Nine officers were injured, with two requiring hospitalisation.
After the confrontation near the Cenotaph, police stated that the counter-protesters were not a cohesive group, and officers were monitoring their movements as they dispersed to other parts of London. Should they attempt to attack the pro-Palestinian march, the police affirmed their commitment to using all available powers and tactics to prevent such incidents.