Suella Braverman slammed by top Tory Sir Robert Buckland and told to ‘concentrate on her job’
Suella Braverman was slammed on Tuesday by a senior Tory MP for her speech to a Right-wing conference and told she should “concentrate on the job” as Home Secretary.
Ex-Justice Secretary Sir Robert Buckland also stressed that all ministers owed the Government a “sense of collective responsibility” and should be “disciplined”.
He criticised the Home Secretary after her speech to the National Conservatism conference in Westminster’s Emmanuel Centre.
In her address, Ms Braverman said that while preventing “illegal migration” in the Channel is the Government’s priority, they “must not lose sight of the importance of controlling legal migration as well”.
She argued that “you cannot have immigration without integration” and “the unexamined drive towards multiculturalism” is a “recipe for communal disaster”.
Her speech was being seen as a warning to Cabinet colleagues against relaxing immigration visa rules in a bid to boost growth and as setting out her stall as the candidate of the Right if the Tories lose the next General Election and there is a leadership contest to replace Rishi Sunak.
But Sir Robert criticised her intervention.
He told Sky News: “I‘m saying to the Home Secretary that she has got a big job to do.
“Getting on and doing that job is exactly where she needs to be.
“The conference for the Conservative Party, there are two conferences, there is the spring forum which we have just had and there is the Conservative Party conference in the autumn, that is the platform through which we should be projecting our views and value.
“Let’s concentrate on the job.”
He said that a “lively policy debate” showed the Tories were not just talking about personalities, but also about issues that matter to voters.
But he added: “We all, particularly ministers, owe the Government that sense of collective responsbility, to be disciplined, to be very clear about the priorities that the Prime Minister has set out, and to work towards what we believe would be a Conservative government that would act in the national interest.”
There has been speculation of a split in Mr Sunak’s Cabinet on immigration, with some members - including Chancellor Jeremy Hunt - more keen than others to stress the benefits of migration for economic growth.
It comes ahead of official figures released later in May that are expected to show net migration of between 650,000 and 997,000.
Downing Street insisted Ms Braverman’s comments on cutting net migration were in line with the Government’s approach.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “She continues to represent the UK Government views on all issues relating to the Home Office, as you would expect.”
The spokesman added: “We want to see employers make long-term investments in the UK domestic workforce instead of relying on overseas labour as part of building a high-wage and high-skilled economy and we are supporting those industries in doing that.”
But Sir Keir Starmer had urged Ms Braverman to cancel her planned speech on immigration and “get back to the office”.
The Labour leader told LBC radio: “Suella Braverman, the Home Secretary, is today making a speech about what she thinks ought to happen on immigration. She is the Home Secretary.
“They’ve been in power for 13 years. This is like (Mikel) Arteta... doing a speech this afternoon on what Arsenal ought to do.”
In her speech, Ms Braverman also praised the “common sense approach” of Conservatives who are “sceptical of self-appointed gurus, experts and elites”.
She added: “Measuring diversity only on the basis of skin colour, sex and sexuality is mindbogglingly myopic. Identity politics is the politics of grievance and division.”
Earlier, ex-Brexit minister Rees-Mogg attacked the Government’s decision to scale back post-Brexit plans to scrap EU laws as “pathetically under-ambitious”.
The former cabinet minister criticised the Prime Minister for breaking his promise to complete a “bonfire” of remaining EU-era laws by the end of the year.
The conference will also feature speakers including Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove, outspoken Conservative deputy chairman Lee Anderson and former Brexit negotiator Lord Frost.
Mr Rees-Mogg, whose speech was interrupted early on by a protester warning about “fascism”, said the Government’s “U-turn” over scrapping EU laws was a “defeat of ambition, prosperity and democracy”
Ministers say it is common sense to address the issue of EU laws in an ordered way, rather than risk havoc by rushing the policy.
Economic experts already say Brexit will leave millions of workers £1,300 worse off than if Britain had stayed in the EU.
Tory MP Miriam Cates had opened the conference with a call for families to be encouraged to have more children, as she claimed “cultural Marxism” was “destroying our children’s souls”.
The conference comes only days after a similar gathering of Tory MPs and grassroots members in Bournemouth, and after a difficult set of local elections that saw the Conservatives lose nearly 1,000 councillors.