Downing Street investigating Suella Braverman over article criticising police that was not signed off as sacking pressure rises

The Home Secretary has faced a backlash after accusing the police of bias over pro-Palestine marches.

Downing Street has launched a probe into Suella Braverman over an incendiary article in which he accused the Met police of "playing favourites" with pro-Palestine protesters as Rishi Sunak comes under intense pressure to sack the home secretary.

The investigation into how the op-ed came to be published when it was not approved by Number 10 came as former chancellor George Osborne claimed the Prime Minister had “come very close” to sacking Ms Braverman in the past.

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The Prime Minister’s spokesman insisted Mr Sunak had “full confidence” in the home secretary. However, there is now a growing belief in Downing Street that Ms Braverman may have gone too far.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman is facing a backlash from her own MPs.Home Secretary Suella Braverman is facing a backlash from her own MPs.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman is facing a backlash from her own MPs.

In her Times piece ahead of a march calling for a Gaza ceasefire that is set to go ahead on Armistice Day despite Government objections, Ms Braverman said aggressive right-wing protesters were met with a stern response by officers while “pro-Palestinian mobs” were “largely ignored, even when clearly breaking the law”.

In a sign of the gulf between the two, the PM’s spokesman also declined to answer if the pair had a “good working relationship”, answering instead they “work together closely”.

Mr Sunak is now facing calls from opposition parties and many of his own MPs to sack Ms Braverman over the “irresponsible” and “divisive” remarks about policing, which they say fan the risk of unrest this weekend.

Labour claims Ms Braverman has broken the ministerial code, with the requirement all “media appearances, both print and broadcast, should also be agreed with the No.10 press office”.

Downing Street insist the op-ed does not "set out a policy position", with a spokesman adding Mr Sunak thinks Ms Braverman "respects his authority".

Asked whether the Prime Minister agrees with the article, the spokesman said the content "was not agreed with Number 10".

No.10 say they are now looking into what happened, raising the serious prospect of Ms Braverman being removed as home secretary, potentially within days.

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One Government source described the situation in Downing Street as “chaos”, with a "miserable atmosphere” as Tory bosses scrambled to work out what to do.

A former minister told The Scotsman that Ms Braverman’s comments were all about a “post-election leadership bid”, with the home secretary widely believed to be trying to position herself to replace Mr Sunak after the next election.

They said: “She can't be sacked today unless it all goes crazy at the weekend and she is a martyr. She's outmanoeuvred No.10. They’ve allowed themselves to be boxed in, so it’s not very smart.”

One minister told The Scotsman it was “always bad news with Suella”, and accused her of “putting herself before the party yet again”.

Another Tory MP suggested Ms Braverman was relying on others for her decision making, saying she was following advice from Sir John Hayes, a Tory MP who she uses as a secret advisor. The MP said: “She should stop allowing John Hayes to pull her strings. We have a puppet home secretary who is allowing herself to be manipulated.

"I don't know why she is going down this route, but it really calls into question whether she has any political judgement at all.”

Questioned about Mrs Braverman’s claims of police bias, transport secretary Mr Harper also directly contradicted her view, and refused to say he had confidence in the home secretary.

The row even spilled into the Home Office itself, with one minister defending Scotland Yard and telling his colleague to keep such criticism private.

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Lord Sharpe of Epsom appeared to suggest the home secretary was undermining the operational independence of the police, whose role it is to make a decision on whether to request a ban.

Home Office minister Lord Sharpe said: “In a perfect world, these conversations should be held in private. However, of course, this is a very difficult international situation and passions are running high.

“We’ve sadly seen a significant increase in hate crime reported since Hamas’s terrorist attack in Israel and the Metropolitan Police have made a number of arrests to date linked with that. I think that shows that the Metropolitan Police are more than capable of exercising their responsibilities and are doing a good job.”

There was, however, support from Tory MP Miriam Cates, who insisted the language used by Ms Braverman "reflects the public mood".

She told Times Radio: “The reaction to what she says in what you might call the Westminster bubble doesn't really reflect what the rest of the public think. She's very much representing what you might say is the mainstream view in the UK. So, yes, I very much have confidence in her.

"The police certainly are operationally independent, but that doesn't mean that they can't be criticised in a democracy."

Political opponents were also furious, with shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper leading the criticism of Ms Braverman during an urgent question in the House of Commons focused on the operational independence of the Metropolitan Police.

Speaking in the Commons, Ms Cooper said Ms Braverman was “deliberately seeking to create division around Remembrance” after the minister doubled down on her characterisation of a protest planned for Armistice Day as a “hate” march.

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Ms Cooper said: “She is encouraging extremists on all sides, attacking the police when she should be backing them. It is highly irresponsible and dangerous, and no other home secretary would ever have done this.”

Ms Cooper went on: “Does this Government still believe in the operational independence of the police, and how can it do so while this home secretary is in post and did the Prime Minister and Number 10 agree to the content of this article? Because either the Prime Minister has endorsed this or he’s too weak to sack her.”

Sir Keir Starmer criticised the Prime Minister during a visit to Wolverhampton, claiming Mrs Braverman was “stoking up tension at the very time we should be trying to reduce tension”.

The Labour leader said: “He’s [Mr Sunak] got a home secretary who is out of control and he is too weak to do anything about it. She is doing the complete opposite of what I think most people in this country would see as the proper role of the home secretary.”

Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey said: “This is a situation of the Prime Minister’s own making. He appointed her knowing she had previously broken the ministerial code yet he was too scared to stand up to her.

“What more will it take for the Prime Minister to do the right thing? It is time for us to move past her pathetic failings and for her to go. Rishi Sunak needs to find his backbone and sack her.”

The former chief inspector of constabulary Sir Tom Winsor said Mrs Braverman’s intervention “crosses the line” by breaking the convention that a home secretary should not question the operational integrity of the police.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “It’s contrary to the spirit of the ancient constitutional settlement with the police, I think it’s contrary to the letter of that constitutional settlement. And it is highly regrettable that it has been made.”



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