How War in the Middle East Got the British Home Secretary Fired

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Suella Braverman, the controversial home secretary in British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s cabinet, was fired after making divisive comments about pro-Palestinian protesters.

The Nov. 13 announcement came after Braverman wrote an article in the Times of London last week in which she claimed that police were “playing favorites” and not enforcing the law when it came to pro-Palestinian protests in London and referred to protestors as “hate marchers.” Braverman reportedly denied a request from the office of the Prime Minister to tone down the article. She will be replaced by James Cleverly, who had been foreign secretary. Former Prime Minister David Cameron will now become foreign secretary.

On Tuesday, Braverman published a letter on X, formerly known as Twitter, indicating that there had been tensions brewing between her and Sunak since she entered office. She said that she agreed to serve as home secretary in exchange for Sunak agreeing to prioritize key issues that were important to her including reducing immigration and introducing laws that “safeguard single sex spaces.”

“For a year, 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,” she wrote. “This was often met with equivocation, disregard and a lack of interest.”

Braverman also accused the prime minister of acting in his own self-interest, and said that their disagreements regarding the pro-Palestinian protests in London were a breaking point. “I have become hoarse urging you to consider legislation to ban the hate marches and help stem the rising tide of racism, intimidation and terrorist glorification threatening community cohesion,” she wrote. “Rather than fully acknowledge the severity of this threat, your team disagreed with me for weeks that the law needed changing.”

Sunak’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“I think the deciding factor this time was the degree of disloyalty [towards the prime minister],” says Nick Dickinson, a researcher who specializes in British politics at Oxford University. “The piece published in the Times was not fully cleared by Downing Street.”

The war between Israel and Hamas has led to mass protests throughout London, with hundreds of thousands calling for a ceasefire each weekend since the war began. On Nov. 11 after Braverman published her article, the far-right group the English Defence League, together with other far-right groups, confronted pro-Palestinian protesters in London. The clashes turned violent, and nine officers were injured and 145 people were arrested. Dickinson says that the perceived connection between Braverman’s remarks and the clashes with police combined with Braverman’s refusal to comply with Downing Street likely convinced Sunak to remove her from office.

This isn’t the first time Braverman’s unfiltered way of speaking has gotten her in trouble. She has referred to the UK’s migrant crisis as “an invasion” and homelessness as a “life choice.” She was forced to resign from her position as home secretary once before in October 2022, when she was discovered to have shared confidential documents with a member of parliament. She was reinstated as Home Secretary just one week later when Sunak took over after then-Prime Minister Liz Truss resigned.

The home secretary is one of the most senior and influential positions in British politics, responsible for ensuring the safety of British citizens and overseeing matters of national security, immigration, and law enforcement. The home secretary, along with the foreign secretary, the chancellor of the exchequer, and the prime minister, are considered the most important roles in the British government.

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