LONDON — U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is facing mounting pressure to fire his home secretary after she accused the police of being too lenient on pro-Palestinian protests — an attack which was not cleared by No. 10 Downing Street.
Ministerial colleagues have so far declined to endorse Braverman in the wake of her comments.
The latest slap down from a Cabinet colleague came from Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, who said on Friday morning that the home secretary’s comments “are not words that I myself would have used.” Still, he noted, “the prime minister has said he has full confidence in her.”
Hunt’s remarks come after Braverman accused the Met Police of “playing favorites” and failing to treat “pro-Palestinian mobs” the same way as right-wing and nationalist protestors. She compared the weekly “hate marches” to sectarian rallies held in Northern Ireland.
Met Commissioner Mark Rowley has said the legal threshold to stop the National March for Palestine — in which thousands are expected to call for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza — had “not been met.” He warned there must be “a real threat of serious disorder and no other way for police to manage the event” to take such a drastic step.
No.10 confirmed Thursday that Braverman’s characterization of the march — which went much further than Sunak’s own criticism — had not been cleared by the prime minister’s office.
That’s left Sunak facing a major dilemma. Sacking Braverman, a favorite of the Conservative right and a potential future leadership contender, could trigger its own backlash. Keeping her in post risks angering Tory moderates, who have made their anger at Braverman known.
Chair of the House Commons justice committee and Conservative MP Bob Neil said on Thursday night that Braverman’s position is “untenable,” and “I think she’s gone over the line … it’s part of a history of ill-judgment and loose words. Of all the jobs in government, home secretary is one of those where you have to be particularly careful.”
Adding to the criticism, London Minister Paul Scully told BBC Newsnight: “We’ve got to make sure that we concentrate on dampening things down rather than fueling that sort of hatred and that division.” He added: “I would just say to every minister and every political leader: we have got to use our language carefully.”