London | British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Monday sacked his Indian-origin Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, and replaced her with James Cleverly, while former premier David Cameron, in an unusual move, is back in the frontline government as the new Foreign Secretary.
Braverman was sacked as Sunak began a Cabinet reshuffle in the morning, days after it emerged that a controversial newspaper article attacking the Metropolitan Police was published without clearance from her boss, according to reports coming out from Downing Street.
The 43-year-old Goan-origin Cabinet minister has been replaced by Cleverly, 54, who moves from his portfolio of Foreign Secretary on the day he was scheduled for talks with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, currently on a five-day official visit to the UK.
It remains to be seen how those bilateral meetings will now pan out as former British prime minister Cameron, 57, is back in the frontline government as the new Foreign Secretary. Cameron, who is no longer an MP in the House of Commons, will have to be appointed to the House of Lords to meet the parliamentary protocol.
Cameron served as the UK Prime Minister from 2010 to 2016 and Leader of the Conservative Party from 2005 to 2016.
"While I have been out of front-line politics for the last seven years, I hope that my experience - as Conservative Leader for eleven years and Prime Minister for six - will assist me in helping the prime minister," Cameron said in his first comments after being appointed as the foreign secretary.
Sunak's Cabinet reshuffle is expected to throw up many surprises following the sacking of Braverman, who released a brief statement to say: "It has been the greatest privilege of my life to serve as home secretary. I will have more to say in due course." Braverman has repeatedly courted controversy in her senior UK Cabinet role, most recently by accusing the Met Police of “playing favourites” when tackling aggressive Israel-Gaza protests in an article in ‘The Times'.
Sunak had been under pressure from sections of his Conservative Party as well as faced attacks from the Opposition for allowing her to continue in her job after she went ahead with the article in a perceived breach of the ministerial code.
“Our brave police officers deserve the thanks of every decent citizen for their professionalism in the face of violence and aggression from protesters and counter-protesters in London yesterday. That multiple officers were injured doing their duty is an outrage,” Braverman said in a statement on Sunday evening following far-right violence during the protests over the weekend.
“The sick, inflammatory and, in some cases, clearly criminal chants, placards and paraphernalia openly on display at the march mark a new low. Antisemitism and other forms of racism together with the valorising of terrorism on such a scale is deeply troubling,” she said.
However, her intervention in support of the police may have come a little too late to save her job in the end.