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Liz Truss has fired Home Secretary Suella Braverman for what has been described as a breach of national security, a dramatic move that increases pressure on the British prime minister as she clings to power.
Four officials familiar with the matter said Braverman viewed classified documents on a personal mobile phone. In a letter to Truss posted on Twitter, she said she had sent an official document from her personal email, and said MPs had already been briefed on its contents.
This is considered dangerous, although it is not usually a shooting crime. But the political context is key, as Truss struggles to keep her premiership from unraveling.
According to a person familiar with the matter, Braverman was on a list of cabinet ministers who worried that Truss’ advisers were preparing to resign in a bid to force the prime minister to step down after a disastrous six weeks in office. The others are Education Secretary Kate Malthouse and Commerce Secretary Kimi Badenouch, the source said. Both told Bloomberg News that they would not resign.
However, concerns among Truss’ team illustrate the extent to which the prime minister’s authority has disintegrated in her rebellious Conservative party. Compounding the desperation, Truss moved quickly to replace Braverman with Grant Shapps – who himself had been openly plotting with Tory MPs to sack the prime minister. This bears all the hallmarks of a non-dominant prime minister.
Braverman is the second holder of the so-called major state offices in the United Kingdom launched by Truss. Kwasi Quarting, a longtime friend and ally of Truss, was removed from the position of Treasury Secretary after the economic plan they had worked on together exploded in the face of financial market pressures, leading to a series of humiliating transformations.
Even getting to the end of Wednesday can be a challenge. Truss warned Conservative MPs against voting in the evening as the opposition Labor Party tries to ban shale gas fracking. The government whips threatened to expel any Tory rebels from the parliamentary party. But hydraulic fracturing is a thorny issue that many conservatives reject because of the fierce opposition in their areas.
Truss warns UK Conservatives against her fracking challenge
Several lawmakers have said to whip the government they will abstain on Wednesday night, even if it means losing the whip, according to a person familiar with the matter. Some Tory MPs have taken to Twitter to voice their defiance – former minister Chris Skidmore said he would not vote to support fracking “for our environment and our climate” and would face the consequences.
Another controversy looms over subsidy payments, which many Conservative MPs want the government to raise in line with soaring inflation. But new Finance Minister Jeremy Hunt has refused to commit to doing so as he seeks to repair the damage done to Truss and Quarting with their economic plan.
The fear among conservatives is that cutting benefits in real terms will hurt the most vulnerable during the cost of living crisis. Conservative support has fallen to a record low in opinion polls, and Truss’ personal approval rating is well below that of her ousted predecessor Boris Johnson.
Hunt has reversed most policies to restore financial stability after the UK’s public finances suddenly collapsed. But in doing so, he has set the Conservative Party on the path to another round of punitive austerity.
However, according to people familiar with the matter, Hunt told the Conservative Party on Wednesday that he is committed to increasing defense spending to 3% of GDP by 2030 – a long-term gear pledge – and will stick to high speed. HS2 railway project.
The biggest question facing Tory MPs is whether and when to impeach Truss, with a general election next by January 2025. There is a growing consensus that she should not be allowed to lead the party in that vote, but deep divisions over who wants MPs to take over.
In her letter to Truss posted on Twitter, Braverman launched a covert attack on the PM’s performance. “Pretending we haven’t made mistakes, going on as if everyone can’t see we’ve made mistakes, and hoping things will magically work out is not serious policy,” she said.
His departure for the post of Westminster left on edge. Although she was ousted by Truss, few MPs would miss the broader significance of the loss of another key ally on the party’s ideological right.
In the absence of a clear unity candidate – former Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak and Leader of the House of Commons Penny Mordaunt – it is the departure of the Cabinet that poses the most immediate threat to Truss. Johnson’s tenure was ended by the abrupt resignations of then-health minister Sajid Javid and Sunack, which led to a mass exodus from his government.
“I’m a fighter, not panicked,” Truss said in the House of Commons on confronting lawmakers for the first time since she was forced to abandon most of her economic programme, just weeks after declaring it.
– With assistance from Emily Ashton, Ellen Milligan and Joe Mays.
(Updates with Shapps designated in the fifth paragraph)
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