By Sophie Robinson
On Monday 13th 2023, Suella Braverman, a perhaps controversial figure within the Conservative Party was sacked as Home Secretary, and replaced by James Cleverly (who was previously the Foreign Minister). David Cameron, who has been out of office for 7 years, made a return to the cabinet, taking on James Cleverly’s role of Foreign Minister. The whole country was asking the question ‘Why was Suella Braverman sacked? And why has David Cameron returned to office after seven years out of it?’
Firstly, who is Suella Braverman, and why is she controversial?
She is a British politician and barrister, and she has been the MP for Fareham since 2015. She was Home Secretary under Rishi Sunak (from the 25th October 2022 – 13th November 2023), but also Home Secretary under Liz Truss (from the 6th September 2022 – 19th October 2022). However, she was ordered to resign by Truss after she broke the rules and sent an official document under her personal email account. In January 2018, she was also appointed the Brexit Secretary, as it is informally known, under Theresa May. However, she resigned after May drafted her agreement to withdraw from the Brexit deal.
There are several records of her saying some quite controversial statements, such as:
- ‘I would love to be having a front page of the Telegraph with a plane taking off to Rwanda. That’s my dream – it’s an obsession’. [This is a reference to the policy she wanted of sending refugees that came to England, to Rwanda].
- ‘The British people deserve to know which party is serious about stopping the invasion on our southern coast, and which party is not’ [here she is referencing migrants arriving on the southern coast, and how it should be stopped]. After she said this, she was confronted by Joan Slater, a Holocaust survivor about the language that she used in describing this. However, she said she would not apologise “for the language that I have used to demonstrate the scale of the problem”.
- ‘Multiculturalism…has failed because it allowed people to come to our society and live parallel lives in it…in extreme cases, they could pursue lives aimed at undermining the stability and threatening the security of society…We are living with the consequence of that failure today.’ [Sunak later disagreed with this statement and stated that the multiculturalism of this country is something we should be ‘proud of’].
Through the statements above, which are just some of many, it is possible to see why and how Braverman was and is regarded as a controversial figure in British Politics.
So, why was she sacked?
She was sacked for her criticism of the police for being too lenient with protesters at recent protests. In making this statement, she was defying an article from Number 10 Downing Street. After her sacking, she sent a letter to the Prime Minister, in which she stated how it was her ‘privilege to serve as Home Secretary’ and ‘while disappointing, this is for the best’. She then goes into detail outlining what she has achieved as Home Secretary, such as ‘enacting new laws such as the Public Order Act 2023 and the National Security Act 2023’. She also explains how she is ‘proud of the strategic changes that I was delivering to Prevent, Contest, serious organised crime and fraud.’ However, later in the letter she becomes much more critical of the Prime Minister.
She explains: ‘You [she is referring to Sunak] have manifestly and repeatedly failed to deliver on every single one of these key policies. Either your distinctive style of government means you are incapable of doing so. Or, as I must surely conclude now, you never had any intention of keeping your promises.’ She later explains: ‘Worse than this, your magical thinking – believing that you can will your way through this without upsetting polite opinion – has meant you have failed to prepare any sort of credible Plan B. I wrote to you on multiple occasions setting out what a credible Plan B would entail, and making clear that unless you pursue these proposals, in the event of defeat, there is no hope of flights this side of an election. I received no reply from you.’ Later in the letter, she indicates how she believes Britain will later turn to ‘radicalisation and extremism’ if action is not taken now on the Act’s that were promised but not delivered, in this case, the Act which she wants of banning hate marches. The full letter can be found here.
Now after looking into Braverman’s sacking, the question that remains is why was David Cameron brought back into office after 7 years out of office?
From 2001-2016, he served as an MP for Witney, 2005-2016 he served as the leader of the Conservative Party. From 2010-2016, he served as the Prime Minister. During his time as Prime Minister, he and his government introduced numerous new policies and reforms. He introduced the National Living Wage, which is an obligatory minimum wage that every worker must be paid. He had an aim of delivering the greenest government ever – an example of how he did this is by creating the world’s first Green Investment Bank (you can read further about this here). He is also known for passing the Same Sex Marriage Act.
So after 7 years out of office, how and why is he back?
According to the BBC, Cameron was a ‘helpful sounding board’ on issues for Sunak, since he was speaking to Cameron from time to time. After a few aides from Cameron to Sunak, the Prime Minister invited him to Downing Street last week and asked him to be the Foreign Minister. No. 10 stated that the recent actions of Braverman was the ‘catalyst’ for this move, although a reshuffle of the cabinet was on the cards for a while. So, how can he just return to the office like that? Due to him being made a life peer. Being a peer means you sit in the House of Lords [the House of Lords scrutinise the House of Commons and are able to pass policies, or reject policies]. Although Cameron being a peer and sitting doesn’t necessarily make him unable to be a minister, but usually if a minister is not an MP they will sit in the house of Lords (Cameron, after not being an MP for 7 years, falls under this category). Cameron is the first former Prime Minister to return to office since the 1970’s.
Has Cameron completed any work visits since his appointment?
On the 16th of November, he visited President Zelensky in Kyiv as his first working visit. He reinstated the promise of supplying diplomatic, economic, moral and ‘above all military support for…however long it takes’. Zelensky explains how he is ‘glad that you [Cameron] came to Ukraine’. The Ukraine foreign ministry revealed how they talked about weapons, arms production and security in the Black Sea. This is the first of many working visits Cameron will have to complete after being given the role of Foreign Secretary.
Alongside Braverman being sacked and Cameron returning, there have been other changes to the cabinet:
- David Cameron is now the Foreign Secretary
- James Cleverly is now the Home Secretary (he was the Foreign Secretary)
- Victoria Atkins is now the Health Secretary
- Steve Barclay is now the Environment Secretary (was the Health Secretary)
- Laura Trott is now the Chief Secretary of Treasury
- John Glen is now the Paymaster General (was the Chief Secretary to the Treasury)
- Esther McVey is now Minister without Portfolio [the Minister without Portfolio is a minister in the cabinet with no specific responsibilities].