Braverman sacked as home secretary after policing row

Suella Braverman's departure follows a string of controversies and criticism of criticism of civil servants
Suella Braverman has been sacked by the prime minister. Photo: Uwe Deffner/Alamy

By Tevye Markson

13 Nov 2023

Suella Braverman has been sacked as home secretary as Rishi Sunak reshuffles his cabinet.

The prime minister asked Braverman to leave his government this morning, which she accepted. James Cleverly has been swiped from the Foreign Office to replace her, with former PM David Cameron the surprise new foreign secretary.

Braverman's sacking follows her failure to get approval from No.10 for an article published in The Times last week that accused the police of bias in the policing of pro-Palestinian protest marches. It also comes ahead of a Supreme Court ruling on the government's controversial plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda on 15 November.

Braverman also prompted fury by claiming that homelessness was a "lifestyle choice", prompting complaints from a number of Conservative MPs.

Downing Street confirmed last Thursday that it had not approved the op-ed by the home secretary before it was published. However, a No.10 spokesperson said on Thursday morning that at that point, the prime minister still had confidence in Braverman.

Braverman said in a statement: “It has been the greatest privilege of my life to serve as home secretary. I will have more to say in due course.”

Originally appointed as home secretary in September 2022 by then-PM Liz Truss, a promotion from her role as attorney general, Braverman resigned just over a month later after breaching the ministerial code by sharing an official document from her personal email address with a parliamentary colleague. She was then reappointed to the senior cabinet role by Sunak when he became PM in October 2022.

Her position in cabinet has come into question several times over the last year, including in May, when it was revealed she had been caught speeding by police and had asked civil servants to arrange a private one-to-one driving awareness course to avoid having to do so publicly.

She avoided an investigation over this, with Sunak telling her in a letter he had consulted with his independent adviser and concluded the incident was not a breach of the ministerial code.

Braverman has been involved in a number of other controversies during her time in government, including an email attributed to her in which attacked civil servants for “blocking" immigration policy.

A CCHQ email sent in Braverman’s name in March, which she insisted she neither saw nor signed off on, said: “We tried to stop the small boat crossings without changing our laws. But an activist blob of left-wing lawyers, civil servants and the Labour party blocked us.”

Cabinet secretary Simon Case later revealed that then-chairman of the Conservative Party Greg Hands had apologised for the email.

The home secretary has criticised civil servants in her department on several occasions, taking aim at Home Office asylum case workers’ “low” productivity last year.

“Our asylum caseworking team do a great job but their productivity, frankly, is too low. The average decision-making rate of a decision-maker per week is one. We need to increase that considerably,” she said.

Braverman again criticised civil servants this summer after the Home Office had to evacuate a barge holding asylum seekers just four days after they were moved onto the boat due to the discovery of legionella bacteria in the water system.

“Am I disappointed with what’s happened? Am I frustrated with what’s happened? Am I angry with what’s happened? Absolutely I am. And I’ve made it very clear to the parties involved, to the civil servants involved who oversaw that,” Braverman told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

Before becoming home secetary, Braverman also targeted civil servants for criticism towards the end of her time at the Government Legal Department.

She ordered officials to scrap diversity, equality and inclusion training in August 2022, calling it a “new religion”, and said diversity and inclusions roles in the civils service are “part of the problem, not the solution”. 

“Britain needs a lot of things but it certainly doesn’t need woke commissars policing our thoughts,” Braverman said.

Just a month before, she had accused civil servants of resisting attempts at post-Brexit reform. She said she had found “some of the biggest battles you face as a minister are, in the nicest possible way, with Whitehall and internally with civil servants, as opposed to your political battles in the chamber”.

There is “an inability to conceive of the possibility of life outside of the EU” among civil servants that has hampered ministers’ attempts at reform, Braverman said.

“What I have seen time and time again, both in policymaking and in broader decision making, [is] that there is a Remain bias. I’ll say it. I have seen resistance to some of the measures that ministers have wanted to bring forward,” she added.

Read the most recent articles written by Tevye Markson - CPS recruiting for two new senior roles in leadership shakeup

Share this page