Suella Braverman letter: Former home secretary accuses Rishi Sunak of 'betrayal' over small boats in incendiary letter after being sacked
Writing one day after being sacked, the former home secretary accused the Prime Minister of repeatedly failing to deliver on key policies, claiming his “style of government” left him incapable of doing so.
Ms Braverman was ousted on Monday and replaced as home secretary by James Cleverly – a decision that did not prompt the traditional exchanging of letters between minister and Prime Minister.
Now seeking to rally her supporters on the right, Ms Braverman said Mr Sunak had led the Conservatives to “record election defeats” and that his “resets have failed and we are running out of time”.
In a claim that will send ripples through the party, Ms Braverman suggested Mr Sunak only became leader because of her, suggesting she did a deal with him to secure her “pivotal” support, which she claimed he reneged on.
Ms Braverman claimed this included a commitment to reduce legal migration, leave the European Convention on Human Rights if required, deliver the Northern Ireland Protocol and Retained EU Law Bills in their then existing form and timetable, and issue unequivocal statutory guidance to schools that “protects biological sex, safeguards single sex spaces, and empowers parents to know what is being taught to their children”.
Accusing the Prime Minister of failure, she said: “This was a document with clear terms to which you agreed in October 2022 during your second leadership campaign. I trusted you. It is generally agreed that my support was a pivotal factor in winning the leadership contest and thus enabling you to become Prime Minister.
“For a year, as home secretary, I have sent numerous letters to you on the key subjects contained in our agreement, made requests to discuss them with you and your team, and put forward proposals on how we might deliver these goals. I worked up the legal advice, policy detail and action to take on these issues. This was often met with equivocation, disregard and a lack of interest.
“You have manifestly and repeatedly failed to deliver on every single one of these key policies. Either your distinctive style of government means you are incapable of doing so. Or, as I must surely conclude now, you never had any intention of keeping your promises”.
The Fareham MP also pointed out Mr Sunak was “rejected by a majority of party members” in the contest with Ms Truss and had “no personal mandate to be Prime Minister”.
Addressing Wednesday’s court case, Ms Braverman said even if the Government succeeded and the Rwanda plan was backed, the “compromises” made by Mr Sunak over the small boats measures would mean a “struggle to deliver” it in the way the public expects.
Ms Braverman was sacked following a seemingly unauthorised article for The Times in which she accused police of “double standards” because of the way pro-Palestinian “mobs” had been handled.
She said she pushed Mr Sunak to legislate to “ban the hate marches”, adding “Britain is at a turning point in our history and faces a threat of radicalisation and extremism in a way not seen for 20 years”.
But she told him: “I regret to say that your response has been uncertain, weak and lacking in the qualities of leadership that this country needs.”
It comes amid growing anger among the Tory right, with Miriam Cates and Danny Kruger, who co-chair the New Conservatives grouping of MPs, stressing their support for the Prime Minister, but expressing deep disappointment that Downing Street had decided to give up on the voters Boris Johnson won over in the 2019 general election.
The two MPs said Mr Sunak’s reshuffle meant the party was now “sacrificing” the swathes of seats in the “red wall” of former Labour heartlands it won four years ago.
They said: “Until yesterday, we held onto the hope that the Government still believed in the realignment – that they would work to rebalance our economy, reorient our foreign policy, radically reduce migration, and restore common sense in our schools and universities. That hope – the project of the realignment – has now dwindled.
“In political terms, it appears the leadership has decided to abandon the voters who switched to us last time, sacrificing the seats we won from Labour in 2019 in the hope of shoring up support elsewhere.”
Mr Sunak held his first post-reshuffle Cabinet meeting on Tuesday morning, hailing his “strong and united team”.
New polling from Ipsos UK suggests 70 per cent of people backed Mr Sunak’s decision to sack Mrs Braverman, as the Prime Minister hopes a pivot away from her more polarising rhetoric can help restore his electoral fortunes.
He faces a crunch week ahead, with new inflation figures and the Supreme Court’s Rwanda ruling on Wednesday, before Prime Minister’s Questions.
The Illegal Migration Act brought into law the Government’s policy of sending some asylum seekers to Rwanda. However, the plans announced in April 2022 have been held up in the courts, with no deportation flights having taken place despite £140 million already being handed to Kigali.
Whereas Mrs Braverman repeatedly signalled she wanted out of the “politicised court”, Mr Cleverly said while foreign secretary in April he was “not convinced” the move was necessary.
He said the European countries that were not signatories – Russia and Belarus – were a “small club”, adding: “I am not convinced it is a club we want to be part of.”
Mr Sunak has set stopping small boats of asylum seekers from arriving in Britain as one of his five pledges to the electorate. But more than 27,300 migrants have been detected making unauthorised crossings of the English Channel so far this year, according to official figures.
The Supreme Court ruling by Lords Reed, Hodge, Lloyd-Jones, Briggs and Sales will be handed down on Wednesday after 10am. Chancellor Jeremy Hunt will also deliver his Autumn Statement next week under pressure from some Tories to unveil significant tax cuts.
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