London, November 13
After days of conjecture and mounting pressure from all sides of the political spectrum, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Monday got rid of his troublemaking home secretary Suella Braverman – who now has the distinction of being made to leave the same Cabinet role twice in just over a year.
The 43-year-old Indian-origin Cabinet minister’s unceremonious departure from the House of Commons frontbenches was anything but unexpected, given her track record of courting controversy.
She has faced a barrage of criticism during her tenure for using words such as a “hurricane” of illegal migrants whom she wanted to deport to Rwanda even as the policy remains entangled in legal wrangles and most recently opened up a new war front with the Metropolitan Police in defiance of Sunak, her boss.
Ultimately, her contentious article in ‘The Times’ labelling the Met Police as biased for not dealing with protesters calling for a ceasefire in the Israel-Gaza conflict even-handedly is what proved to be the final straw for Sunak, the first Indian-origin British prime minister.
“It has been the greatest privilege of my life to serve as Home Secretary. I will have more to say in due course,” said Braverman in her parting shot, a clear warning bell of what’s to come as she makes life difficult for the Sunak-led government from the backbenches.
While her exit as home secretary in October last year was officially described as a resignation, that departure was also similarly forced after Liz Truss wanted to part ways with her for breaching ministerial guidelines in her own final days as Britain’s shortest-serving prime minister.
This time, the newspaper op-ed also signified a ministerial breach as it emerged that she went ahead with the article dubbing protesters as “hate marchers” and accusing the Met Police of “playing favourites” without the clearance of Downing Street.
However, there has been a theory doing the rounds of the corridors of power in the UK government that Braverman was in effect baiting her boss to sack her ahead of an expected general election next year.
This would then shore up her support on the extreme right of the Tory party in time for her to start preparing for a leadership bid to replace Sunak if he went on to lose the polls.
Her dramatic sacking has yet again thrown into sharp focus the deep divides within Britain’s governing party, which has seen a quick succession of leaders and ministers come and go in recent times.
Suella Braverman, nee Fernandes, is the Conservative Party member of Parliament for Fareham in south-east England who succeeded fellow Indian-origin colleague Priti Patel in the Cabinet as home secretary.
The Goan-origin barrister, who previously served as the Attorney General in the Boris Johnson-led government, was among the first contenders to throw her hat in the ring to replace Johnson as Tory leader and Prime Minister. She is a prominent member of the pro-Brexit wing of the Conservatives who wants a clear break from Europe, including taking the UK out of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
She has often referenced her personal migrant story as the London-born daughter of Hindu Tamil mother Uma and Goan-origin father Christie Fernandes, who migrated to the UK from Mauritius and Kenya respectively in the 1960s.
“They loved Britain. It gave them hope. It gave them security. This country gave them an opportunity. I think my background’s really informed by my approach to politics,” said Braverman in her leadership campaign launch video in July last year.
However, she was knocked out in the second round of the initial ballot of Tory MPs and threw her support behind Liz Truss, who as prime minister rewarded her with one of the highest offices in the UK government.
But that relationship soured soon as she resigned after admitting a “mistake” in using her private email for ministerial communication and following a heated meeting with Truss, who herself did not last at 10 Downing Street much longer.
The Cambridge University law graduate married Rael Braverman in 2018 and her maternity leave famously brought about an overdue legal change to allow her to remain a Cabinet minister while away to give birth to their second child last year.
Braverman is a Buddhist who attends the London Buddhist Centre regularly and took her oath of office in Parliament on the ‘Dhammapada’ scripture of Lord Buddha’s sayings.
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