Sunak poised to sack Braverman – here is what happens next in Tory civil war

Tory MP defends Suella Braverman over article row

The last time Suella Braverman was sacked as Home Secretary, the Prime Minister who did it (Liz Truss) was out in days.

Rishi Sunak is also now in an extremely vulnerable position with his party trailing 21 points in the polls, a great deal of unhappiness on the backbenches and a belief they are heading for a historically bad defeat.

One Tory MP said: “Things really could not get any worse with a different leader.”

So, as the Prime Minister mulls over whether to sack a Home Secretary who is running an independent policy and blatantly making a leadership pitch, he has to work through a number of scenarios.

When is best to remove her? And what would be the consequences?

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When would Sunak wield the knife?

While the prevailing wisdom has been that Mr Sunak will wait until after the Supreme Court ruling on the Rwanda deportation scheme on Wednesday, the likely date is tomorrow (Monday).

This is because if Braverman wins on Wednesday it will be very difficult to sack her after a victory.

Conversely, if she loses and he sacks her then she can immediately lead the already strident campaign for Britain to leave the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR).

Sources have suggested that it is “better a clean break quickly” with a new person by Wednesday if Sunak hopes to get away with it.

Who would the new Home Secretary be?

As one source noted: “Rishi is a clear person who will make a strategic choice.”

So while Leader of the House Penny Mordaunt and Attorney General Victoria Prentis among others from the left of the party have been speculated on, he is likely to pick someone at least nominally from the Right.

That basically leaves him with one option, Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch.

Her record on fighting the culture wars and no-nonsense approach could placate enough on the right to allow him to get away with sacking Braverman.

But one well-placed source has asked: “Why would she [Badenoch] accept a job which has become a poison chalice?”

Added to that Badenoch, even if she did accept, is not trusted by many on the right after watering down the Retained EU Law Act and keeping Brussels red tape.

Also, her closeness to Michael Gove raises huge suspicion.

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Why would Sunak sack Braverman?

He would sack her because he believes she has become a liability and is freelancing in the Government making a leadership pitch to replace him.

A source from Liz Truss’s government said that her behaviour as “a loose cannon” was similar then leading up to when Truss sacked her.

Too many times the Prime Minister has either had to defend herself or carefully avoid repeating her comment whether it is on migrant “invasions” or the police’s double standards.

Added to that the Left of the party – the 100-strong One Nation group – is baying for her blood and they put him in power.

Why would he not sack Braverman?

Because in doing so he would lose the last acknowledged right-winger from the Cabinet who actually speaks to the new voters the party picked up in 2019.

He will be sending a signal that he listens more to the left-wing parties, left-wing media like the BBC and Sky News and the left of his own party than the right.

Basically, he will have to say that Braverman is wrong even though essentially her only fault is saying what most people in the country are thinking.

He will be telling the right of his party that they are wrong and set himself on a course for a full-scale civil war.

Added to that why would you sack the person whose support was crucial in getting you over the line in last year’s leadership non-contest with Boris Johnson?

Outcome 1: Sunak is forced out of Downing Street

In this outcome, the sacking of Braverman leads to the 53 or more letters required to trigger a vote of confidence going to Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee.

This means the Right have given up on him and groups like the Common Sense Group, led by Braverman’s mentor Sir John Hayes, and the New Conservatives, led by her allies Miriam Cates and Danny Kruger, organise to push the Prime Minister out.

Even if Sunak wins the confidence vote, history tells us that it is difficult to survive as happened for both Boris Johnson and Theresa May.

The Tories then face another leadership contest with Braverman the standard bearer for the right and an early frontrunner.

Outcome 2: Sunak gets away with it

Many Tory MPs expressing unhappiness with Sunak have conceded that “we would look mad if we have another change of leader.”

As one noted: “Voters would never forgive us.”

Sunak does enough to placate the right by installing somebody like Kemi Badenoch as Home Secretary and, crucially, the Supreme Court rules in favour of the Rwanda flights.

For those on the liberal wet wing of the party, this would mark the final defeat of the right, and they probably would not be wrong.

Outcome 3: Sunak holds on but the party becomes ungovernable

This is the most likely scenario with Suella Braverman leading a right-wing faction which essentially holds the government to ransom.

With everyone expecting defeat, Sunak’s government is unable to do anything without finding help from Labour or conceding to Braverman’s factions’ demands with groups like the Common Sensers and New Conservatives.

The party limps to a late general election possibly in January 2025 and then, after the inevitable defeat, Braverman becomes one of the leading contenders to replace Sunak as Tory leader in a contest which could actually destroy the party.

Meanwhile, Sir Keir Starmer and Labour win power and the Tories are left powerless possibly for a decade.

The wildcard to watch: Lee Anderson

Lee Anderson has become a popular MP on the right and was drafted in by Rishi Sunak as Deputy Chairman.

He has though been an outspoken supporter of Braverman and the things she has said – “just common sense”.

If he were to resign as Deputy Chairman and support her then that could trigger an all-out revolt with many members ready to back him as well.

Add to this Lz Truss’s faction then the period after the Autumn Statement could become very dangerous for Mr Sunak who is still 21 points behind Labour in the polls.

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