Sunak’s strategy with Braverman…not as astute as he might think

All this talk about how “Sunak is waiting for the verdict on the Rwanda policy” before sacking Braverman isn’t quite the politically astute move some seem to think. Here’s my analysis of the pointlessness of the Rwanda policy and why Sunak’s best option is to fire Braverman before the verdict is out. 

First off, fairly obviously, it means this drags on until Wednesday 15 November. That’s a long time in politics at the best of times. From a political perspective, there are two main ways this plays out at this stage.

A) The policy is ruled unlawful. We all know that if Braverman is still in post she will attack the judges, lawyers and charities. This means Sunak has to either support those attacks on people doing their jobs to uphold the law, or, yet again, distance himself from his Home Secretary.

Either way, it is a foregone conclusion, after the scenes in London on Saturday 11 November, that any verbal attack on individuals or professions by the Home Secretary carries with it a very real threat of the far right taking it as a call to action to carry out a physical attack. 

The second that a physical attack happens, it will be on Sunak as much as Braverman if he has left her in post, and, from a political perspective, that won’t play with voters. The racist thug vote might be vocal, but it is actually really small. 

B) So we come to the second possible outcome, the policy is found lawful. Now Sunak has a serious issue, because now it looks like he is sacking a successful Home Secretary, who has just won a landmark case, and he has a policy which he knows he can’t actually use anyway.

You see, here’s the rub. I can wax lyrical about the inhumanity and immorality of forcibly removing vulnerable people to an effective dictatorship with a track record of shooting refugees who asked for food, press ganging refugees into fighting in illegal wars, causing those who disagree with Kagame’s government to disappear, leaving refugees in destitution, denying 100 per cent of asylum claims from countries such as Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen etc etc. It is a long and often repeated list of cruelty, and it has all already been factored in. 

Sunak’s issue is he can’t mask the reality of the policy from the public anymore. He knows that Rwanda has capacity for, at most, 200 people. Even the one judge who supported the government during the Appeals Court case warned his agreement was on that basis.

He knows that he will struggle to get an airline to be able to take off, and, even then, he knows his grand statement move will be overtaken with the images of protestors and attempts to prevent the flights. It won’t exactly be a photo opportunity for him or his government. 

He knows that, because his government, his Home Secretary, has effectively stopped processing asylum claims, he still has to find accommodation for the tens of thousands of people seeking safety who have been left in limbo.

He knows that means more cases as his government overrules local communities to build more internment camps across the country to place those seeking asylum indefinitely. None of this looks great with the electorate. 

So now he has an emboldened far right expecting all those seeking asylum to disappear overnight, a Home Secretary stoking them, and a policy which he knows will make absolutely no real difference, either to people coming to the UK or the need to support those already here. 

It’s not a great outlook for him as he tries to limp on for another year. Every day knowing his Home Secretary is going to push out something else which he needs to distance himself, and, more to the point, knowing that he has a Home Secretary who wants to cause trouble. 

There has been a suggestion that Braverman thinks there should be a snap election fought on small boats policies. If anything demonstrated how out of touch the Home Secretary, and by extension the PM who hasn’t fired her, it is this one suggestion.

Immigration no longer has the political salience it once did. People are more concerned about personal things, like not being able to afford to eat or heat their homes. They are also not as racist and bigoted as Braverman seems to genuinely believe. 16/ 

A snap election would be political suicide for the @Conservatives, but, hey, who am I to try and dissuade them from taking the chance. Doing so because the MP rated most unfavourably by the public tells you to is just idiocy though. 17/

Yes, sacking Braverman gives the risk of mobilising the hard right of the Conservative party, but the actual really hardcore of those, the ones who will sacrifice personal ambition for ideology and support someone not in one of the “great offices of state”, are very small. 18/ 

Not sacking her doesn’t stop that mobilisation, it just makes it worse, as they can rally behind a senior cabinet minister, rather than a non-entity backbencher. Waiting for the Rwanda verdict makes no difference to this calculation, but could make it worse. 19/ 

If the Rwanda policy is found lawful, it becomes harder to fire Braverman. If unlawful, she will rile up the far right again. Firing her beforehand makes anything she says after the verdict dismissible as the petty rantings of a scorned MP. It’s the politically best option