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Suella Braverman has accused Rishi Sunak of a “betrayal” of his pledge to “stop the boats” in a blistering attack on the prime minister.
The former home secretary lashed out at Sunak a day after he sacked her from the cabinet, criticising him for “equivocation, disregard and a lack of interest” in important policy areas, including tackling irregular migration.
In an open letter to the prime minister posted on the social media site X, she revealed details of a secret deal she claimed he signed while courting her support during the second party leadership contest last year.
Her letter also heaped pressure on Sunak ahead of the Supreme Court’s verdict on Wednesday on whether his plans to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda are lawful.
Braverman accused him of having “failed to prepare any sort of credible ‘Plan B’” if the court rules that the policy is unlawful. She said Sunak had relied on “wishful thinking as a comfort blanket to avoid having to make hard choices” in the run-up to the judgment.
Even if the Supreme Court rules in the government’s favour, however, she warned that “because of the compromises that you insisted on” in the Illegal Migration Act, the government will “struggle to deliver our Rwanda partnership in the way that the public expects”.
My letter to the Prime Minister pic.twitter.com/7OBzaZnxr2
— Suella Braverman MP (@SuellaBraverman) November 14, 2023
The legislation is “far from secure against legal challenge” and asylum seekers “will not be removed as swiftly as I originally proposed,” she said.
Her letter took aim at Sunak’s authority, saying that he was “rejected by a majority of party members during the summer leadership contest” and has “no personal mandate to be prime minister”.
Highlighting her own role in helping him seize the mantle of party leader, Braverman said a deal was struck in exchange for her support during the second leadership race.
Braverman said she accepted Sunak’s “offer to serve as home secretary in October 2022 on certain conditions” that were set out in a “document with clear terms” during the contest last year.
This alleged agreement set out “key policy priorities” such as reducing overall legal migration and introducing clauses in legislation to “exclude the operation of the European Convention on Human Rights” that obstructed progress on efforts to “stop the boats”, she said.
Braverman said Sunak also gave assurances that he would deliver the Retained EU Law Bill on its original timetable, which would have scrapped all EU-derived law from the statute book by the end of this year. It has since been scaled back.
In addition, she said Sunak agreed to issue guidance to schools that “protects biological sex”, safeguards single-sex spaces, and allows parents to know what their children are being taught.
The prime minister has “manifestly and repeatedly failed to deliver on every single one” of these policies, she said. Her interventions and proposals were “often met with equivocation, disregard and a lack of interest”, she said.
Braverman ended the letter by warning that somebody needed “to be honest”, concluding: “Your plan is not working.”
She said: “We have endured record election defeats, your resets have failed and we are running out of time. You need to change course urgently.”
One cabinet minister, asked if Braverman’s letter would be a rallying point for a big Tory rebellion, said: “Definitely not. She has no troops.”
The British public appears to think Sunak was right to sack Braverman in Monday’s reshuffle. An Ipsos poll found 70 per cent of people thought it was the right decision, while only 17 per cent thought it was wrong.
Downing Street said in response to Braverman’s letter that Sunak was “proud to appoint a strong, united team yesterday focused on delivering for the British people”.
“The prime minister believes in actions not words. He is proud that this government has brought forward the toughest legislation to tackle illegal migration this country has seen and has subsequently reduced the number of boat crossings by a third this year. And whatever the outcome of the Supreme Court tomorrow, he will continue that work.
“The prime minister thanks the former home secretary for her service.”