Suella Braverman gives personal statement to Commons
Suella Braverman’s moment in the Commons today was drawing comparisons with another historic intervention which brought down Britain’s greatest Prime Minister since the Second World War.
Margaret Thatcher was infamously brought down when Sir Geoffrey Howe, her former Deputy Prime Minister, resigned over a profound disagreement on the EU and gave a personal statement to the House of Commons.
At the time the late Labour heavyweight Denis Healey quipped that it was like “being savaged by a dead sheep” and it mortally wounded Mrs Thatcher who would soon after be ousted by her MPs.
Like Sir Geoffrey with the Iron Lady, Ms Braverman today has in effect served notice to Rishi Sunak.
Unlike Sir Geoffrey though she gave the Prime Minister a way to hold on to his office.
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READ MORE: Suella Braverman warns Tories face ‘electoral oblivion’ in bombshell statement
The key part of her statement inevitably came at the end like the tip of a scorpion’s tail plunging down on its victim.
“I refuse to sit by and allow the trust that millions of people have put in us to be discarded like an inconvenient detail,” she said.
Mr Sunak was not one of the MPs on the packed Tory benches, but it was a clear message to the Prime Minister that she intends to be front and centre on any effort to remove him.
Crucially, though, she offered an olive branch.
She said: “If we summon the political courage to do what is truly necessary, and to fight for the interests of the British people, then I am confident that we will regain their support. And, if the Prime Minister leads that fight, he will have my total support.”
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Dressed entirely in blood red, Ms Braverman delivered her words clinically and put a gun to the Prime Minister’s head.
It was clear to all listening that if he fails she will pull the trigger which will produce the letters from Tory MPs for a vote of confidence.
But her earlier statement also reflected her own lack of confidence that he will do what is necessary.
Referring to the emergency legislation to get deportation flights to Rwanda off the ground, she said: “My deeper concern relates to the substance of what may be in that Bill.
“Previous attempts have failed because they failed to address the root cause of the problem: Expansive human rights laws, flowing from the European Convention on Human Rights, replicated in Labour’s Human Rights Act, are being interpreted elastically by courts both domestic and foreign, to literally prevent our Rwanda plan from getting off the ground.”
Ms Braverman laid bare her own frustrations of advocating much tougher measures only to be ignored.
She questioned why the Bill had not yet been tabled – knowing it was delayed yesterday – and laid out five demands including sitting over Christmas to get it passed.
But her message was clear that the can be no compromise now on the issue with Tory MPs on the left threatening to rebel over removing the power of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) on decisions relating to illegal migration.
She welcomed measures to tackle record legal migration numbers which she had pushed for earlier and Downing Street had delayed.
Then added that the Prime Minister “can now follow that up with a Bill that reflects public fury on illegal migration and that actually delivers on his pledge to stop the boats.”
But in the end, there was a wider question she posed which was aimed at the courts and foreign bodies interfering in British law but could equally be interpreted about a Prime Minister with no mandate and dwindling support among his MPs.
“All of this comes down to a simple question: who governs Britain? Where does ultimate authority in the UK sit?”
If Sunak does not follow her advice, even after sacking her, the answer may not be him for much longer.
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