Demands to sack Suella Braverman after No10 says it did NOT sign off her bombshell article slamming Met chief for ‘playing favourites’ by allowing pro-Palestinian march on Armistice Day – as she faces probe over defying PM with Tory civil war raging

Rishi Sunak is facing calls to sack Suella Braverman today after No10 dramatically confirmed it did not sign off a bombshell article accusing police of ‘playing favourites’ by allowing a pro-Gaza march on Armistice Day.

Downing Street has launched a probe after the Home Secretary suggested Scotland Yard commissioner Mark Rowley would be tougher if the protests were in a different cause.

In a piece for the The Times, she also risked enraging the DUP by comparing the situation to protestant marches in Northern Ireland, saying the Gaza ceasefire demo included ‘Islamists’ who were ‘asserting primacy’ and could be linked to terrorism.  

Downing Street initially refused to say whether the intervention had been signed off by Rishi Sunak.

But the PM’s official spokesman confirmed at lunchtime that the article was not approved – as the ministerial code requires – with an investigation ongoing into claims that the most controversial parts were not shown to No10 in advance.

Although the spokesman said Mr Sunak retained ‘confidence’ in the Home Secretary, the developments leave Ms Braverman’s position hanging by a thread. 

Yesterday Mr Sunak took a more measured tone insisting that he would hold Sir Mark ‘accountable’ if the protest cannot be controlled at the weekend. The Yard has said the plans do not meet the legal threshold for a ban.

A Tory MP with close connections to Northern Ireland told MailOnline that Ms Braverman was displaying ‘complete ignorance’ and should be sacked. ‘It will be a test of how tough Rishi is. If he doesn’t then he will be showing that he is in the hands of others,’ the ex-minister said.   

Even her Tory supporters admitted that the DUP ‘will not be impressed’ with her comments on Northern Ireland, as almost all the marches there are staged by protestants. 

Rumours have been sweeping right-wing Conservative MPs that Ms Braverman could be replaced by Michael Gove.

One former Cabinet minister told MailOnline: ‘Personally speaking, I think that he would do far better to get rid of Rowley.’ 

Other MPs said they agreed with Ms Braverman’s thoughts but did not believe she could be allowed to keep flouting collective responsibility.

However, a YouGov poll suggested that the public is sympathetic to her views on the pro-Palestine march, with half wanting it blocked. 

Mark Rowley

Mark Rowley

Suella Braverman

Suella Braverman

Suella Braverman (right) escalated the standoff with Met commissioner Mark Rowley (left) by suggesting that he would be tougher if the protests were in a different cause.

Metropolitan Police officers guard the Cenotaph war memorial in Whitehall last week

Metropolitan Police officers guard the Cenotaph war memorial in Whitehall last week

Metropolitan Police officers guard the Cenotaph war memorial in Whitehall last week

A YouGov poll suggested that the public is sympathetic to Ms Braverman's views on the pro-Palestine march, with half wanting it blocked.

A YouGov poll suggested that the public is sympathetic to Ms Braverman's views on the pro-Palestine march, with half wanting it blocked.

A YouGov poll suggested that the public is sympathetic to Ms Braverman’s views on the pro-Palestine march, with half wanting it blocked.

The Ministerial Code states that 'the policy content and timing of all major announcements, speeches, press releases and new policy initiatives should be cleared in draft with the No 10 Press and Private Offices at least 24 hours in advance'.

The Ministerial Code states that 'the policy content and timing of all major announcements, speeches, press releases and new policy initiatives should be cleared in draft with the No 10 Press and Private Offices at least 24 hours in advance'.

The Ministerial Code states that ‘the policy content and timing of all major announcements, speeches, press releases and new policy initiatives should be cleared in draft with the No 10 Press and Private Offices at least 24 hours in advance’.

A Home Secretary publicly attacking operational decisions by the Met chief is extremely rare, and a former inspector of constabulary warned it ‘crossed the line’. 

Speculation has been growing in Westminster that Ms Braverman is engineering a confrontation with Mr Sunak that could see her resign, and position for a potential Tory leadership contest after the election.

She sparked a major backlash over the weekend by suggesting homelessness can be a ‘lifestyle choice’ and charities should be stopped from giving tents to people living on the streets.

Moderate Tory MPs have been condemning the idea, and ministers have distanced themselves from her words. The move did not appear in the King’s Speech on Tuesday, although it has not been completely ruled out in future.

What did Braverman say in Times article? 

Suella Braverman wrote that pro-Palestinian marches were not ‘merely a cry for help for Gaza. 

‘They are an assertion of primacy by certain groups — particularly Islamists — of the kind we are more used to seeing in Northern Ireland,’ she said. 

‘Also disturbingly reminiscent of Ulster are the reports that some of Saturday’s march group organisers have links to terrorist groups, including Hamas.’

She added: ‘Unfortunately, there is a perception that senior police officers play favourites when it comes to protesters. 

‘During Covid, why was it that lockdown objectors were given no quarter by public order police yet Black Lives Matters demonstrators were enabled, allowed to break rules and even greeted with officers taking the knee?

‘Right-wing and nationalist protesters who engage in aggression are rightly met with a stern response yet pro-Palestinian mobs displaying almost identical behaviour are largely ignored, even when clearly breaking the law?

‘I have spoken to serving and former police officers who have noted this double standard. 

‘Football fans are even more vocal about the tough way they are policed as compared to politically connected minority groups favoured by the left. 

‘It may be that senior officers are more concerned with how much flak they are likely to get than whether this perceived unfairness alienates the majority.’ 

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The Ministerial Code states that ‘the policy content and timing of all major announcements, speeches, press releases and new policy initiatives should be cleared in draft with the No 10 Press and Private Offices at least 24 hours in advance’.

‘All major interviews and media appearances, both print and broadcast, should also be agreed with the No 10 Press Office,’ the code says. 

Downing Street declined to say whether Mr Sunak and Ms Braverman have a ‘good working relationship.’

‘They continue to work closely,’ the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said.

No10 added that it was ‘important to consider language carefully’, but refused to say whether it believes all ministers are currently doing this.

Pressed on whether the Home Secretary’s actions amounted to a breach of the ministerial code, the spokesman said: ‘I’m not the arbiter of the code, it’s not for me to opine.’

The spokesman refused to ‘set a timeframe’ on when an update will be provided on the matter.

In a sign of the rising levels of animosity within the Conservative Party, one MP told MailOnline that they did not believe Ms Braverman was trying to force her own resignation. ‘She’s just a bit thick,’ they said. 

‘It will be very interesting to see if Rishi Sunak can get rid of someone who has no place in the Cabinet. The only reason she is there is to placate the ERG wing of the party,’ they said.

The Tory – who is a member of the ERG bloc – said many of their colleagues would be ’embarrassed’ by what she was saying, particularly on Northern Ireland. 

A Conservative backbencher suggested Ms Braverman’s supporters among MPs numbered about 10, while ‘everyone else recognises she’s a liability to the party and to the PM personally’. 

However, former Brexit Secretary Lord Frost insisted: ‘Many say they want authentic politicians who tell it like it is – and then complain when they do so. 

‘She is in my view correct to call out a lack of even-handedness in the way some demonstrations, and indeed some opinions, are policed. Saying anything else invites people to disbelieve their eyes.’ 

Mr Philp was deployed to respond to an urgent question on the Met row in the Commons this morning.

He said Ms Braverman could not come personally to parliament as she was ‘with a close family member who is having a hospital operation this morning’.

He insisted that ‘the Government resolutely backs the question of operational independence’.

In a round of interviews this morning, Transport Secretary Mark Harper disagreed with Mr Braverman’s claim that police ‘play favourites’. Answering an urgent question in the Commons policing minister Chris Philp declined to echo the words, although he stressed the premier still has confidence in Ms Braverman.

Writing in The Times, the Home Secretary said: ‘I do not believe that these marches are merely a cry for help for Gaza. 

‘They are an assertion of primacy by certain groups — particularly Islamists — of the kind we are more used to seeing in Northern Ireland. 

‘Also disturbingly reminiscent of Ulster are the reports that some of Saturday’s march group organisers have links to terrorist groups, including Hamas.’

Has the Ministerial Code been breached, and what are the punishments?  

The Ministerial Code sets out that ‘the policy content and timing of all major announcements, speeches, press releases and new policy initiatives should be cleared in draft with the No10 Press and Private Offices at least 24 hours in advance’. 

It adds that ‘all major interviews and media appearances, both print and broadcast, should also be agreed with the No 10 Press Office’.

There is also a specific section on writing articles, saying ministers must ensure that ‘publication will not be at variance with their obligations to Parliament and their duty to observe the principle of collective Ministerial responsibility’.

Failure to get approval for the article that appeared in The Times would likely be seen as a flagrant breach of the code.

However, breaches do not always mean that ministers are sacked.

The PM has the final say on punishments, and can take counsel from his adviser on ministerial interests. 

Ms Braverman previously quit Liz Truss’s administration over emailing Cabinet papers from a private account. But she was reappointed by Rishi Sunak six days later. 

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She added: ‘Unfortunately, there is a perception that senior police officers play favourites when it comes to protesters. 

‘During Covid, why was it that lockdown objectors were given no quarter by public order police yet Black Lives Matters demonstrators were enabled, allowed to break rules and even greeted with officers taking the knee?

‘Right-wing and nationalist protesters who engage in aggression are rightly met with a stern response yet pro-Palestinian mobs displaying almost identical behaviour are largely ignored, even when clearly breaking the law?

‘I have spoken to serving and former police officers who have noted this double standard. 

‘Football fans are even more vocal about the tough way they are policed as compared to politically connected minority groups favoured by the left. 

‘It may be that senior officers are more concerned with how much flak they are likely to get than whether this perceived unfairness alienates the majority.’ 

Labour and the Lib Dems have called for Ms Braverman to be sacked. 

Speaking on a visit to Wolverhampton, Keir Starmer said: ‘He must know that this isn’t the way for a Home Secretary to behave.

‘He’s got a Home Secretary who is out of control and he is too weak to do anything about it.’ 

London Mayor Sadiq Khan waded in branding Mr Braverman’s words ‘inappropriate, inaccurate and irresponsible’.

‘It stokes divisions, it is in danger of dividing communities. We have got to be incredibly careful,’ he told the BBC.

‘Are we really saying that politicians… should be telling the police what protests to allow and disallow.’

Mr Harper told Times Radio: ‘I think all police forces are focused on upholding the law without fear or favour. That’s what they do.’

The grim backdrop to the latest bout of Tory infighting is a poll showing the Tories 24 points behind Labour

The grim backdrop to the latest bout of Tory infighting is a poll showing the Tories 24 points behind Labour

The grim backdrop to the latest bout of Tory infighting is a poll showing the Tories 24 points behind Labour

Downing Street pointedly refused to say whether Ms Braverman’s latest intervention had been signed off by Rishi Sunak, who yesterday took a more measured tone insisting that he would hold Sir Mark ‘accountable’ if the protest cannot be controlled at the weekend

Asked whether he agreed with the Home Secretary’s remark, he said: ‘I’m not going to indulge in textual analysis of her article.’

He said police have been ‘focusing very hard on making sure that we don’t see any disturbance and disorder’ at remembrance events this weekend.

Sir Tom Winsor, former HM chief inspector of constabulary, told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme Ms Braverman’s attack on the police was ‘unprecedented’.

‘It’s unusual. It’s unprecedented. It’s contrary to the spirit of the ancient constitutional settlement with the police, I think it’s contrary to the letter of that constitutional settlement. And it is highly regrettable that it has been made,’ he said.

‘These political objections can be made by many, many people, but a Home Secretary of all people is not the person to do this.’

He added: ‘By applying pressure to the commissioner of the Met in this way I think that crosses the line.’

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