Policing minister Chris Philp, home secretary Suella Braverman, and prime minister Rishi Sunak (picture: Number 10/Flickr)

Cracks in the Tory party are deepening. Home secretary Suella Braverman is once again in trouble over breaking the ministerial code. Her political enemies are clawing at her because she tried to escape a public speeding awareness course. This might sound trivial, but it’s part of a widening split in the Cabinet and Tory party about how to cling to power.

Braverman sought advice from civil servants and an aide about arranging a private speed awareness course while she was attorney general in the summer of 2022.  The civil servant refused to do this, so Braverman took a three-point hit on her licence to avoid a public course.

The ministerial code says ministers “must not ask civil servants to act in any way which would conflict with the Civil Service Code”.  And that civil servants must also not “misuse” their official position to “further private interests or those of others”.

For Braverman to prove her “innocence” she must show that she asked if the civil servants could help, rather than actually to fix up a private course. On the one hand, the saga shows that, like every member of the ruling class, Braverman thinks that she’s above the rules that ordinary people have to obey.

Either way, the details of who said what and when aren’t really what’s important.  Really it’s the unravelling of Braverman’s conduct which comes when the Tories are divided over questions of direction, migration and leadership. And this is the second time Braverman has broken the ministerial code. 

Under Liz Truss’ fleeting time as prime minister, Braverman resigned as home secretary after sending an official document from a personal email to a backbench MP. Yet this didn’t bother Rishi Sunak, who reinstated her six days later when he took the top job.

Sunak now has to approve an investigation by his ethics adviser, which, depending on the outcome, could lead him to sack his home secretary.

More cracks show in Tories 

Two camps are forming in the Tory party. Those that are siding with Sunak—and the more hardcore Tories, including those who attended the hard right National Conservatism Conference last week. Here Braverman set out her vision—no refugees, no migrant workers, no visas. 

But Sunak doesn’t want to go that far. That’s not because he is a champion for open borders but because he must quickly fill labour shortages. 

That means more visas for foreign workers. Another row began last week over migration numbers. Figures from the ONS set to be released this Thursday will likely show that net migration rose from 500,000 last June to an all-time high by December. 

Braverman is also under fire for trying to wriggle out of voting in the Commons on the third reading of her department’s Illegal Migration Bill.

The right says the attacks on Braverman are part of a “witch‑hunt” to remove her from office. With her would go the loudest contestation over how to handle migration and who leads the Tories in the future. 

Labour leader Keir Starmer waded in to say that if Braverman broke the code, she should leave her job.  Clearly for the Labour Party leader, breaking parliamentary rules is much more of a crime than saying it’s not racist to hate refugees and migrants—as Braverman did last week.

The Tories are almost 20 points behind Labour in the polls, and their disastrous local elections results mean they need to shore up support now before next year’s general election.

But whatever way the Tory crisis swings, it’s time for working class people to up their fightbacks while the government is weak.


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