Former Home Secretary Suella Braverman leaves behind a timeline of controversies as James Cleverly takes the wheel on domestic policy

Monday 13 November 2023

Suella Braverman was sacked from office as Home Secretary amid Monday's cabinet reshuffle, leaving behind a timeline of controversy.

Opponents of Mrs Braverman accused her of employing far-right rhetoric and lacking compassion in her comments about asylum seekers, immigrants and multiculturalism.

She had previously also been effectively sacked by Liz Truss over security concerns, before being brought back into government a week later by Rishi Sunak.

In October 2020, she received significant criticism for backing the Internal Market Bill, designed to prevent internal trade barriers in the UK following the Brexit deal.

However, the Bill was described as breaking international law in a “limited and specific way”.

Senior barristers particularly questioned her decision to seek advice on the Bill from three Brexit-supporting lawyers, including a junior barrister who had worked for the Vote Leave campaign, rather than the Government’s usual panel of legal advisers or the Treasury’s most senior lawyer.

Mrs Braverman remained a staunch supporter of the Bill, leading to accusations that she had sacrificed the UK’s reputation and put the Good Friday Agreement at risk.

Mrs Braverman has also been a major proponent of the Government’s plans to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda if they cross the Channel in small boats.

The plans were developed in October 2022 and have since attracted widespread condemnation from human rights groups.

Mrs Braverman was criticised after telling an event at the 2022 Tory conference that it was her “dream” to deport people to Rwanda.

In addition, the major trade deal between the UK and India in October 2022 was reported to have been “on the verge of collapse” after Mrs Braverman expressed “reservations” about the possibility of allowing more immigration from India and said there was a problem with Indian citizens overstaying visas.

Mrs Braverman was also effectively sacked as home secretary towards the end of Liz Truss’s premiership after it emerged she had leaked confidential Cabinet papers to right-wing backbencher Sir John Hayes.

An investigation found she had sent confidential documents to her personal email address on a number of occasions as home secretary, in addition to leaking a draft ministerial statement to Sir John.

She was reappointed by Rishi Sunak, and shortly after her return to government, Mrs Braverman again courted controversy by describing the arrival of asylum seekers on the south coast as an “invasion”.

She was confronted over her comments by Holocaust survivor Joan Salter, but said she would not apologise.

In a comment piece in the Daily Mail, Mrs Braverman claimed child grooming gangs in the UK were “almost all British-Pakistani”.

Mrs Braverman said it was her “dream” to deport people to Rwanda

Muslim groups, medical bodies and others accused her of “amplifying far-right narratives” about British-Pakistani men, while the Independent Press Standards Organisation said her claim had been “significantly misleading” as the Home Office’s own research concluded offenders were mostly from white backgrounds.

Claims also circulated she had breached the ministerial code by asking civil servants to arrange a private driving awareness course for her after she was caught speeding in 2022.

The Prime Minister decided not to launch an investigation, concluding that Mrs Braverman’s actions did not breach of the code even if “a better course of action could have been taken to avoid giving rise to the perception of impropriety”.

Suella Braverman was sacked from office as Home Secretary

Mrs Braverman also drew outrage from LGBT+ groups after claiming there were “many instances” where asylum seekers had pretended to be homosexual or transgender to “game the system” and get “special treatment”.

She also said being a victim of discrimination on LGBT+ grounds should not be enough to qualify for asylum.

In a speech on migration in the US, Mrs Braverman said multiculturalism in the UK had “failed” and threatened security.

Homelessness charities criticised Mrs Braverman for reported plans to prevent them from giving tents to rough sleepers and claiming homelessness was a “lifestyle choice”.

In more recent news, amid multiple pro-Palestinian marches in the UK and concern about the use of antisemitic language, Mrs Braverman accused police of “playing favourites” by tolerating the demonstrations while using stronger tactics against right-wing protests.

Downing Street said it had not approved the comments, which were described by some as “divisive” and “inflammatory” and led to renewed calls for her to be dismissed, before she was sacked from office on Monday morning.

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