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Can Tory liberals see off “Suella-ism”?

Leon Neal/Getty

Sacking Suella Braverman is best understood as Rishi Sunak’s “coming-out party”, says Tom McTague in UnHerd. He is, in effect, “defenestrating the right” from his cabinet and announcing that he will fight the next election as a “moderate, liberal conservative”. The problem is that while Braverman might be easily discarded, “Suella-ism” will prove much harder to dislodge. For all the melodrama, she expressed a feeling about modern Britain that is shared beyond the far fringes of the Tory right, and it’s a more coherent story than Sunak has come up with. Her story is this: “The Conservative Party has failed.”

The party might have won elections, but it has “failed to change the country”. It got Britain out of Europe, but “the Blob remains in charge”. This is the “essence of Suella-ism”. The courts are still “all-powerful”, schools promote their own ideology, police declare that “jihad doesn’t mean jihad”. It’s time, she says, to “take back control”. A common mistake is to dismiss politicians you don’t like as a “throwback to some distant era”– to see Braverman as just a “modern-day Enoch Powell”, born of the party’s “unchanging, loopy hard right”. In reality, she is a product of Britain as it exists now, with all its “anxieties, paranoias, prejudices and complexities”. If she wants to win the Tory leadership, the former home secretary will have to explain why she achieved so little in office. But Tory liberals are going to need a better story to explain their failure to remake Britain if they are to defeat Suella-ism in the long run.