Home Secretary Braverman Shuns No 10 Edits, Igniting Debate Over Police Neutrality and Ministerial Independence
In a striking defiance of convention, Suella Braverman, the Home Secretary, has bypassed No 10 by publishing her article in The Times without incorporating all of the Prime Minister’s office’s suggested revisions. The article, which takes a critical view of the police’s approach to Left-wing protests, has sparked a debate on the police’s perceived impartiality and raised questions about the autonomy of Cabinet ministers.
Braverman’s assertive stance has drawn parallels to Boris Johnson’s tenure as Foreign Secretary, where he too published articles on Brexit that weren’t fully vetted by the then Prime Minister Theresa May’s team. This recent development is atypical of the usual processes and suggests a Cabinet minister exercising a level of independence that is seldom witnessed in the tightly controlled communications of the UK government.
The crux of Braverman’s article was her concern regarding the policing of a pro-Palestine march on Armistice Day. She argues for an even-handed approach, suggesting that there is a public perception of senior police officers favoring certain protest groups, citing the differential treatment of Black Lives Matter protesters and lockdown objectors during the COVID-19 pandemic as an example.
The publication of the unaltered article has been met with criticism from several quarters, including opposition MPs and former police chiefs, who accuse the Home Secretary of undermining the operational independence of the police. However, allies of Braverman have refuted these accusations, standing by the views expressed in the article.
Downing Street’s involvement typically includes reviewing and requesting changes to articles penned by Cabinet ministers before publication. However, on this occasion, while edits were provided by No 10, not all were reflected in the final version that hit the presses. Particularly, a controversial comparison between pro-Palestine protests and Northern Ireland marches was left unedited.
This editorial independence has been branded a “disgrace” by a source familiar with No 10’s thinking, marking a rare instance of a senior Cabinet member disregarding edits from the Prime Minister’s office. It remains to be seen what, if any, repercussions will arise from Braverman and her team’s decision.
Amidst these tensions, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak had attempted to quell the standoff with the Metropolitan Police, affirming the right to peaceful protest while also acknowledging the offense the pro-Palestine march might cause to the memory of war veterans.
This episode not only brings to light the dynamics within the current government but also cements Braverman’s image as a figure of principle. The impact of her actions on the relationship between No 10 and the Home Office, as well as on the broader political landscape, is yet to unfold.