The week in politics: Fireman Rishi Sunak battles Suella Braverman's blazes

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is under pressure to sack Home Secretary Suella Braverman (PA) (PA Wire)
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is under pressure to sack Home Secretary Suella Braverman (PA) (PA Wire)

In a week starting with Bonfire Night, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s first and possibly last King’s Speech was lacking in fireworks. It turned out Suella Braverman had her own display of political pyrotechnics in the works.

The King’zzz Speech

An awkward air hung over the ancient pageantry of the State Opening of Parliament - the first delivered in seven decades by a male monarch. King Charles dutifully read out the PM’s legislative agenda. The lifelong environmentalist glanced up briefly when he got to the bit about how “my government” would try to open more of the taps for North Sea oil and gas.

For critics, disappointed at Mr Sunak’s failure to include any pre-election zingers, it was more of a King’zzz Speech. Tax-cutting zealots will look now to the Autumn Statement on November 22, although all the signs from Chancellor Jeremy Hunt indicate that that too will be a damp squib.

Rwanda redux

More immediately, Mr Sunak and the Home Secretary will learn the fate of the centrepiece of their strategy against cross-Channel small boats, when on Wednesday the Supreme Court rules on their plan to deport migrants to Rwanda.

Ms Braverman says it is her “dream” to see planeloads of migrants taken to the East African country. If the judges throw out the plan, she’s made no secret of her desire to see Britain quit the European Convention on Human Rights.

Stances like that have made the hardline MP for Fareham a nightmare for centrist Tories but a darling of the right, and fed the widespread belief in Westminster that she is positioning herself for a future leadership bid, if Mr Sunak is forced out by an election defeat to Labour next year.

But will Ms Braverman even be in office by Wednesday?

Pro-Palestine and Armistice overlap

The home secretary's intervention on the question of Armistice Day protests by pro-Palestinian groups, via an unauthorised op-ed in The Times, managed to antagonise many from moderate Tories to Ulster Orangemen, but especially the Met police, whom she accused of political bias.

It left both her and the PM’s reputations singed. Would he back her or sack her? She was fired once already from the Cabinet, by Liz Truss, for a security breach, only to be swiftly restored when she lent her support to Mr Sunak’s leadership bid follow Ms Truss’s implosion as PM.

Robert Halfon, the minister given the unenviable task of representing the Government on Friday’s media round, damned with faint praise. “The Home Secretary has a unique way of expressing herself,” he said.

Others already expressed themselves, angrily and at length, after Ms Braverman had declared that some people sleep rough as a “lifestyle choice”. The next hours and days will show whether she herself is being left in the political cold by the PM.