Rishi Sunak risks mutiny from Tory Right if he sacks Suella Braverman

Rishi Sunak is warned he risks a mutiny from the Tory Right if he sacks Suella Braverman following her unauthorised attack on police handling of Pro-Palestine marches

Rishi Sunak was last night warned of a mutiny on the Tory Right if he sacks Suella Braverman.

He spent yesterday locked in talks with his closest advisers about whether to remove his outspoken Home Secretary for an unauthorised attack on the police handling of pro-Palestinian marches.

In a rare public rebuke, Downing Street made clear it had not approved a newspaper article in which Mrs Braverman accused the police of going soft on Left-wing protesters. The failure to get clearance for her comments is a potential breach of the ministerial code.

Labour said she was ‘out of control’ and some Conservative moderates called for her to be sacked.

Last night her future in government was in the balance. But, as rumours of a snap reshuffle swirled around Westminster, MPs on the Right of the party warned Tory whips that the Prime Minister would trigger a civil war if he removed her.

Rishi Sunak was last night warned of a mutiny on the Tory Right if he sacks Suella Braverman

In a rare public rebuke, Downing Street made clear it had not approved a newspaper article in which Mrs Braverman accused the police of going soft on Left-wing protesters

One MP ally of the Home Secretary said: ‘There was an operation by the whips to stoke anger against Suella.

‘But a large group of MPs on the Right pushed back. The message was simple: ‘Don’t try it, she speaks for us. So if you come for her, you come for us’.’

Another said Mr Sunak ‘owes her big time’ for supporting him after Liz Truss resigned last year – a move that helped persuade Boris Johnson to abandon a potential comeback.

‘Without Suella it would have been Boris, not Rishi,’ the source said. ‘He owes her big time and although he might want to forget it, we haven’t. If he tries to sack her it will end very badly for him.’

However, one senior Tory said the Home Secretary could count on the support of only ‘half a dozen’ MPs, adding: ‘There are 350 Tory MPs and she has six who support her.’

Former chancellor George Osborne told the Political Currency podcast: ‘If he fired her there would be a big row, there would be a lot of fireworks.

‘But ultimately, prime ministers tend to win those encounters because the home secretary will suddenly become a backbencher.’

In public, senior Tories were divided over her comments.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak during a policing roundtable at 10 Downing Street last month

Tory deputy chairman Lee Anderson said: ‘The Home Secretary is only saying what most people are thinking.

‘She is allowed to comment on and criticise the Met Police. Anyone who thinks her comments are outrageous needs to get out more.’

But fellow deputy chairman Nickie Aiken insisted the mass pro-Palestine march planned for tomorrow, Armistice Day, ‘should not be stopped by political whim’. Ms Aiken said: ‘The police should never be involved in politics and politicians should never get involved in policing operations.

‘The police must police without fear or favour and it is a very dangerous precedent to state otherwise.’

Metropolitan Police officers guard the Cenotaph war memorial in Whitehall last week

‘Without Suella it would have been Boris, not Rishi,’ a source told the Mail

Sir Bob Neill, chairman of the Commons justice committee, last night became the first senior Tory to call for Mrs Braverman to be sacked, telling LBC Radio her position was untenable. ‘She’s gone over the line,’ he said. ‘It’s part of a history of ill judgment and loose words.’

The row focused on comments in an article by Mrs Braverman in The Times in which she accused the police of ‘playing favourites’ with protesters by clamping down hard on Right-wing demonstrations while taking a softly-softly approach to those organised by groups on the Left.

She repeated her description of pro-Palestine demonstrations as ‘hate marches’ – a phrase no other minister had publicly endorsed, but which supporters say is backed up by examples of ugly anti-Semitism on previous protests. 

Mrs Braverman (right) escalated the standoff with Metropolitan Police boss Sir Mark Rowley (left) by suggesting that he would be tougher if the protests were in a different cause.

The Home Secretary also suggested that ‘Islamists’ and others were trying to use the pro-Palestine marches to assert ‘primacy’ on the streets.

A Whitehall source said Mrs Braverman’s article was submitted to No 10 for approval, but that a request to make ‘significant’ changes was ignored. The source described her conduct as ‘very unsatisfactory’.

The PM’s spokesman said: ‘The content was not agreed by No 10. The Prime Minister continues to believe that the police will operate without fear or favour.’

The spokesman said the PM still had ‘full confidence’ in the Home Secretary. But last night aides were still advising him to sack her for insubordination. Mr Sunak’s allies were already angry with Mrs Braverman after she caused a backlash by describing homelessness as a ‘lifestyle choice’.

Labour said Mrs Braverman’s conduct breached the ministerial code, which requires ministers to agree ‘major announcements’ with No 10 in advance.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, Labour frontbencher Pat McFadden said failure to take action would be ‘a display of weakness’. The PM’s position is complicated by his own decision to raise concerns about the planned march, saying it was ‘disrespectful and provocative’. There are fears it will attract counter-demonstrations from the far Right.

Organisers of the march say it will start two hours after events at the Cenotaph and a mile away.

Rick Muir from the Police Foundation said the Home Secretary had ‘decided to set fire to a core aspect of the British model of policing, the operational independence of the police from ministers’.

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