Suella Braverman and her lifestyle choices

Suella Braverman was Home Secretary (under Rishi Sunak) from 25th October 2022 to 13th November 2023; during that time, she has made a significant impression on immigration, on the role of a Home Secretary, and the overall tone of British politics.

Braverman become an MP for Fareham in 2015, the chair of the European Research Group in 2017, a junior Brexit minister in 2018 and was appointed Attorney General in 2020 by Johnson. This was all before her unsuccessful attempt in the Conservative party leadership elections, and her ensuing (and brief) stint as Home Secretary under Truss, in September 2022. Her rise, then, was fairly swift, and characterised, even early on, by her singularity of purpose. She was driven by her fanatic pursuit of strict, nationalistic policies, and her self-confessed ‘obsession’ with achieving much tighter immigration restrictions – which would ideally be facilitated by long-cherished plans to deport UK immigrants to Rwanda. During the Conservative’s 2022 Party Conference – now, over a year ago – she reportedly said that it was literally her ‘dream’ to have a frontpage newspaper article featuring a plane flying off to Rwanda. She made it her political “raison d’etre” throughout her time in Cabinet, and even cited the current lack of these strict immigration laws as a key part of her dismissal. In her biting letter addressed to Number 10, she claimed it was both the area where Sunak most betrayed her, and an issue that would continue to haunt him during the remains of his Prime-ministership. Despite various court rulings (including a recent Supreme Court decision) decrying these Rwanda proposals, as well as the fact that Braverman is physically no longer in the cabinet anymore, this issue is still incredibly prevalent. Her ardour has left its mark, with calls for Sunak to bypass the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and reports, too, of an increase in the required income threshold for UK migrants to stay in this country, which have been recently revealed. 

The vitriolic and provocative nature of Braverman’s immigration views, then – and the ongoing impact they continue to have – remain undisputed; but, it was her treatment of protest, and her commentary on actual British citizens, that led to her eventual dismissal from government.

In anticipation of the King’s Speech on November 7th, she wanted to include a new bill, which would reportedly fine homeless charities who gave out tents to rough sleepers; in a post on X, she declared that sleeping in a tent was nothing more than a ‘lifestyle choice’. She seemed to imply that homelessness – the indignity and hardship of existing on the streets without an actual bed – was something that was elective, could be decided. This understandably provoked a slew of responses from other MPS and homeless charities, who were quick to point out that the recent rise in homelessness comes as a direct consequence of austerity and Tory policies, and her proposal did not make it into the King’s Speech. But, this crippling absence of human understanding – a factor which seems essentially fatal to her Cabinet career – was made clearer very soon after, following the publication of her inflammatory column in The Times. She claimed the Met Police force had ‘double standards’ in their treatments of protestors, particularly in the light of recent pro-Palestine protests, which Braverman subsequently denounced as hate marches. The widespread conflict in London during the Remembrance Sunday Parade in the days that followed these remarks, was then directly attributed to her. Treading clumsily in incredibly volatile territory, her column had not been approved by Number 10, and her subsequent dismissal from her position as Home Secretary followed just two days later. 

Braverman’s tactics: to consistently target those who are weak, in need, or in difficult situations – despite their populist appeal – seem to have ultimately failed her. But, irrespective of her current absence, the antagonism and divisiveness she fostered remain potent political presences. And, as the election gets ever nearer, it will be interesting to watch how both Braverman herself, and the type of politics she propagates, may continue to develop.


Image: Brett Sayles via Pexels


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