Braverman’s rapid resurrection and the issue that still dogs UK politics

Suella Braverman’s appointment as UK home secretary suggests the issue of immigration will remain a divisive issue for Tory party

“I have made a mistake; I accept responsibility; I resign.” The words of departing home secretary Suella Braverman eight days ago. Her reappointment as UK home secretary on Tuesday, just six days after exiting the role and putting the knife into ex-prime minister Liz Truss along the way, must mark one of the most remarkable comebacks, if not the swiftest, in UK political history. Blink and you would have missed it, such is the flux in UK politics at the moment.

Her initial resignation was triggered by a breach of the ministerial code: she shared highly sensitive proposals to relax immigration rules via her personal email. The UK government is under pressure from business to let more migrants in to fill vacancies and boost growth, a notion that sits uneasily with Brexiteers.

Unsurprisingly, opposition attacks on Rishi Sunak’s new government have focused on Braverman’s reappointment and whether that flies in the face of Sunak’s pledge to usher in a new era of professionalism in government. However, the more important issue is whether Sunak’s onboarding of Braverman was merely to appease the hardline Brexiteer faction within the Tory party and whether the politics of immigration will continue to strangle British politics. Braverman is a key figure in the party’s eurosceptic European Research Group and the “anti-woke” Common Sense Group.

Braverman advocates a tough stance on immigration and has been a fervent supporter of the UK government’s plan to controversially reroute migrants through Rwanda for processing. Her appointment shows the issue of immigration and the divisions it has cemented within the Tory party are never far from the surface, and will remain an open wound despite Sunak’s attempt at a fresh start.


It’s not obvious either if the new prime minister’s business-friendly pragmatism will win out over his need to appease the more nativistic elements within the party. During the Conservative party leadership race he announced plans for an annual cap on the number of incoming refugees, and said he would do “whatever it takes” to ensure the Rwanda scheme worked, but that was before Truss’s crash and burn.