UK’s Sunak fires minister who said police too lenient with pro-Palestinian protesters

Suella Braverman had decried ‘pro-Palestinian mobs’ and ‘hate marchers’; former premier David Cameron appointed foreign secretary in surprise move

Britain's Home Secretary Suella Braverman at a press conference in the capital Kigali, Rwanda, March 18, 2023 (AP Photo, File)
Britain's Home Secretary Suella Braverman at a press conference in the capital Kigali, Rwanda, March 18, 2023 (AP Photo, File)

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Monday fired Home Secretary Suella Braverman, days after she accused police of being too lenient with pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel “hate marchers.”

The government said Braverman left her job as part of a Cabinet shuffle as Sunak shakes up his top government team.

Braverman said “it has been the greatest privilege of my life to serve as home secretary,” adding that she would “have more to say in due course.”

She was replaced by James Cleverly, who had been foreign secretary and was one of the first top global officials to visit Israel after the October 7 massacre.

Cleverly was in turn replaced by former prime minister David Cameron, in a surprise move.

Sunak was under growing pressure to fire Braverman, a divisive figure popular with the authoritarian wing of the governing Conservative Party, after critics accused her of heightening tensions during weeks of contentious pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel demonstrations in Britain.

British Prime Minister David Cameron addresses the media outside 10 Downing Street in London on July 11, 2016, after announcing that Theresa May would be Britain’s new leader. (AFP Photo/Chris J. Ratcliffe)

In a highly unusual attack on the police, Braverman said London’s Metropolitan Police force was ignoring lawbreaking by “pro-Palestinian mobs,” and described the demonstrators as “hate marchers.”

Last week Braverman wrote an article for the Times of London in which she said police “play favorites when it comes to protesters” and acted more leniently toward pro-Palestinian demonstrators and Black Lives Matter supporters than to right-wing protesters or soccer hooligans.

Braverman said, “There is a perception that senior police officers play favorites when it comes to protesters,” and called demonstrations calling for a ceasefire in Gaza “an assertion of primacy by certain groups,” particularly Islamic extremists.

“Terrorists have been valorized, Israel has been demonized as Nazis and Jews have been threatened with further massacres,” she said.

The article was not approved in advance by the prime minister’s office, as would usually be the case.

Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (R) and Britain’s Home Secretary Suella Braverman attend a policing roundtable summit at 10 Downing Street in central London, October 12, 2023. (James Manning / POOL / AFP)

On Saturday, an estimated 300,000 people marched through London, as pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel activists made their latest mass call for a ceasefire, just over a month since Hamas terrorists swept over the Gaza border and rampaged through Israeli communities, killing more than 1,200 and taking some 240 people hostage.

The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza says that over 11,000 people have been killed since the war began. The figures cannot be independently verified and are believed to include terror operatives as well as civilians killed accidentally by Palestinian gunmen or rocket misfires in the Strip.

An Israeli Channel 12 reporter at the demonstration reported chants of “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” a slogan used by supporters of Hamas and others to demand Israel’s destruction.

His report also included footage of anti-Jewish chants, antisemitic banners, and photos of demonstrators wearing Hamas headbands.

Hamas supporters at a march in London, November 11, 2023 (Metropolitan Police)

Additionally, far-right protesters scuffled with police and tried to confront the large pro-Palestinian march, which was held on Armistice Day. Critics accused Braverman of helping to inflame tensions.

Braverman, a 43-year-old lawyer, has become a leader of the party’s populist wing by advocating ever-tougher curbs on migration and a war on human rights protections, liberal social values and what she has called the “tofu-eating wokerati.”

As home secretary she was responsible for law and order and immigration policy and championed the government’s stalled plan to send asylum-seekers who arrive in Britain in boats on a one-way trip to Rwanda. A UK Supreme Court ruling on whether the policy is legal is due on Wednesday.

Critics say Braverman has been building her profile to position herself for a party leadership contest that could come if the Conservatives lose power in an election expected next year. Opinion polls for months have put the party 15 to 20 points behind Labour.

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