Politics

Suella Braverman sacked: From deporting migrants to demonising homeless people, this is her rotten legacy

Suella Braverman has been sacked as home secretary. But the controversy over her protest comments is only the latest episode in a series of scandals

Suella Braverman

Suella Braverman's time at the Home Office has been filled with controversy and scandal. Image: Parliament TV

Suella Braverman is gone, sacked by Rishi Sunak as home secretary after inflammatory comments over pro-Palestine protesters.

Following a week where she said homelessness was a “lifestyle choice” and was blamed for stoking up violence at the Cenotaph on Armistice Day, the final straw may well have been breaking a paragraph of the ministerial code by writing an article in The Times.

To get sacked once as home secretary may be regarded as misfortune. To get sacked twice, well, that’s Suella.

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“It has been the greatest privilege of my life to serve as home secretary. I will have more to say in due course,” Braverman said after her sacking.

Of course, she’s returned as home secretary once already after being sacked, so any political obituaries should be treated as a draft. With that in mind, here’s a recap of the controversial former home secretary’s biggest scandals and episodes.

Claiming to have ‘contributed’ to a textbook she simply did some photocopying for

Before her adventures in politics, Suella Braverman was a lawyer. One of her achievements was, according to her online CV, as a “contributor” to the 2007 textbook Gambling for Local Authorities, Licensing, Planning and Regeneration.

And yet, as the book’s author Philip Kolvin KC told The Big Issue in October last year, Braverman “did not make a written or editorial contribution to the book”.

Kolvin added: “However on one occasion I asked her to do some photocopying for the book, which she did.”

The very first clause of the ministerial code says ministers are “expected to maintain high standards of behaviour and to behave in a way that upholds the highest standards of propriety.”

The conduct predates Braverman’s time in government. But, while in office as home secretary, Braverman discreetly called her old chambers and had the offending CV taken down from the internet.

Braverman never addressed the claims when The Big Issue got in contact, and as far as we know has never been taken to task by interviewers. A complaint was also made to the Bar Standards Board, which regulates barristers, but the outcome of any potential investigation was a closely-guarded secret.

Perhaps she’ll have a chance to explain if she makes a run for leader.

Homelessness is a ‘lifestyle choice’

The Conservatives made a promise in their 2019 manifesto to end rough sleeping by 2024. As 2023 draws to a close, that’s now a distant dream and a broken promise, experts and charities have decided, as the number of people on the streets creeps up.

Enter Suella Braverman, who declared on X, formerly Twitter, that homelessness is a “lifestyle choice”, and promised to stop charities handing out tents to rough sleepers.

The comments earned not just widespread condemnation from those supporting the homeless, but also scepticism from fellow Tory MPs. Plans to ban tents were conspicuously absent from the King’s Speech, laying out the government’s agenda until the next election, the following week.

As Big Issue founder Lord John Bird said: “If you don’t deal with a problem when it’s a social problem then, at times, it becomes a law and order problem.

“If the root causes of poverty and homelessness had been addressed decades ago, you wouldn’t have this need transferred to the streets of the UK. We need grown-up thinking rather than responding to the issue with a policy that infers homelessness is a law and order offence, which Suella Braverman is doing here.”

Being accused of fuelling far-right violence on Armistice Day

After describing pro-Palestinian protests as “hate marches”, Braverman accused the police of being biased for not cracking down on ceasefire demonstrators.

Even the UN weighed in. Clément Voule, the UN’s special rapporteur for the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, told The Big Issue: “It’s quite worrying, this presumption to say that this protest will be a hate protest. 

On Saturday, police found themselves clashing with “counter protesters” who had come to the Cenotaph.

Former EDL leader Steven Yaxley-Lennon, better known by the alias Tommy Robinson, was among those seen on Whitehall.

“They arrived early, stating they were there to protect monuments, but some were already intoxicated, aggressive and clearly looking for confrontation,” said Met assistant commissioner Matt Twist. 

“Abuse was directed at officers protecting the Cenotaph, including chants of: ‘You’re not English any more.’”

Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, blamed Braverman for stoking the violence, saying:  “The scenes of disorder we witnessed at the Cenotaph are a direct result of the home secretary’s words.”

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Deporting migrants to Rwanda by Christmas 2022 was her ‘dream’

The government will learn whether its plan to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda is legal on Wednesday. It could pave the way for flights to take off in the new year, according to reports.

The scheme was Braverman’s “dream” and “obsession”, with the once-again-former home secretary saying she wanted to see flights leaving for Kigali by Christmas 2022.

“I would love to have a front page of The Telegraph with a plane taking off to Rwanda, that’s my dream, it’s my obsession,” she said at last year’s Conservative Party Conference.

Coining the ‘tofu-eating wokerati’

While pushing through the Public Order Bill, controversial legislation restricting the right to protest, Braverman laid out a catchy attack on those she saw as supporting environmental activists.

“It’s the Labour Party, it’s the Lib Dems, it’s the coalition of chaos, it’s the Guardian-reading, tofu-eating wokerati, dare I say, the anti-growth coalition that we have to thank for the disruption that we are seeing on our roads today,” Braverman told the house of commons.

Surviving a row over speeding tickets

A row broke out in May after it was alleged Braverman had tried to arrange a one-to-one speed awareness course when she was caught speeding.

Braverman denied having tried to evade sanction, telling MPs she “paid the fine” and “took the penalty”. In the end, Sunak decided not to open an investigation into the matter.

A six-day break from being home secretary

Cast your mind back to October 2022. Liz Truss was prime minister. Suella Braverman was home secretary. And then she wasn’t. Forced to resign after a security breach in which she shared a draft written statement on migration with a fellow MP, Braverman was out of a job for less than a week.

Despite the scandal disqualifying her from holding the post of home secretary, she was back within six days when Rishi Sunak formed a government.

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