Braverman says Tories ‘mimicked’ Labour and ‘disrespected’ grassroots in brutal attack on Sunak


Suella Braverman has attacked Rishi Sunak as she appealed to grassroots Tory members ahead of a Conservative leadership campaign.

The former home secretary, who was re-elected to her Fareham and Waterlooville seat, hit out at her own party for letting MPs, not members, oust Boris Johnson and replace him with Mr Sunak.

“It was members who chose an election-winning prime minister in the form of Boris Johnson that led us to our success in 2019,” she told the Popular Conservatives conference on Tuesday.

“And yet it was MPs who ousted him and replaced him with that choice of candidate Rishi Sunak, installed by MPs, led us to our greatest defeat.

“This was really a way of robbing members of their right, of their voice, of their say. It cannot be allowed to happen again.”

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Suella Braverman speaks via video link during the Popular Conservatism post-election event.
Pic: PA
Ms Braverman spoke at the Popular Conservatism post-election event via videolink. Pic: PA

Mr Johnson won a large majority in the 2019 general election but resigned after facing a confidence vote.

Liz Truss was then voted in by members but after stepping down 45 days later, Mr Sunak became prime minister when Penny Mordaunt pulled out of the race before it could go to a members’ vote.

Ms Braverman is now expected to be a frontrunner in the current leadership contest.

She appealed to grassroots Tory members as she said the Conservatives need to “restore trust, not just with the electorate, but actually within our own party”.

“The integrity of the Conservative Party has broken down for too long,” she added.

“Grassroots members have been sidelined, disenfranchised and treated pretty badly, to be honest.”

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Undermining of democracy

Ms Braverman did not hold back as she lambasted the rest of her party, saying local associations “who knew their communities best” were “totally ignored and disrespected” when it came to choosing candidates.

She said “inappropriate, and frankly unsuitable candidates” were parachuted in “because they were friends of those within the leadership, because they had worked in Number 10”.

“A total undermining of democracy in our party,” she added.

Ms Braverman also said the party needs to “restore credibility on the core conservative policies that unite” members.

That includes immigration “because we’ve been weak, we’ve been squeamish, we failed to tackle this very pressing concern”.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak hosts a policing roundtable at 10 Downing Street, London. Picture date: Thursday October 12, 2023.
Ms Braverman said the Tories under Rishi Sunak had lost credibility. Pic: PA

‘Mimicking Labour’

Ms Braverman added that the Conservatives had been “mimicking Labour, it was hard to distinguish the two parties” and said the Tories need to say they are “unapologetic, patriotic”.

“For too long we’ve been nervous. We’ve been reticent, we’ve been shy about demonstrating that love of our country and aspiration,” she said.

“We need to be the party that makes it clear we’re on the side of the grafters, of the strivers, of the people who take a risk to make their lives and the lives of their families and their communities better.

“We want to be the party that says it doesn’t matter where you come from, it’s where you’re going.”

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On Monday, Ms Braverman spoke at the National Conservatism conference in Washington DC, where she accused “far, far too many Tory politicians” of being “liberal and progressive” by supporting the flying of the Progress Pride flag, which represents the LGBTQ+ community, on government department buildings.

She said: “The Progress flag says to me, it says to me one monstrous thing: That I was a member of a government that presided over the mutilation of children in our hospitals and from our schools.”

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