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Braverman’s battling performance delighted supporters but she’s not out of trouble yet | Jon Craig

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So it’s all a “political witch-hunt”, is it?

That was the claim made by the embattled Suella Braverman on Halloween.

For a gruelling hour and 40 minutes, she faced the wrath of opposition MPs over the Manston migration crisis, but delighted her supporters on the Tory benches.

In a noisy Commons showdown, the combative and confrontational home secretary came out fighting, bought herself some time in her battle for survival and lived to fight another day.

The migrant crisis, she declared, was nothing less than “an invasion on our south coast”, before adding: “Let’s stop pretending they are all refugees in distress.”

Inflammatory language, opposition MPs protested.

In her opening statement she insisted she had never ignored legal advice.

“As a former attorney general, I know the importance of taking legal advice into account,” she said, provoking howls of laughter from the Labour benches.

Read more:
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Then, answering Labour’s shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper, she really began to let rip at her opponents.

“The British people deserve to know which party is serious about stopping the invasion on our southern coast, and which party is not,” she said.

And then she defiantly added: “There are some people who would prefer to be rid of me.”

Cue uproar from Labour MPs, before she said: “Let them try!

“I know that I speak for the decent, law-abiding, patriotic majority of British people from every background who want safe and secure borders.

“Labour is running scared of the fact that this party might just deliver them.”

Ah, the patriotic majority! The clear implication was that she meant Tory voters and that Labour is soft on migration and asylum seekers. Tory MPs loved it.

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Living next to Manston migrant centre

Well, most Tory MPs. Unfortunately for the home secretary, the first Conservative backbencher called by Deputy Speaker Dame Eleanor Laing was grumpy old Sir Roger Gale, whose constituency includes Manston.

He claimed the crisis was all Ms Braverman’s fault, because she took the decision not to commission further accommodation. Not true, she insisted in reply.

Then came an exchange that was pure pantomime, as she said she was willing to apologise for mistakes but not for things she hadn’t done.

“It has been said that I sent a top secret document,” she protested. “That’s wrong.

“It has been said that I sent a document about cyber-security. That’s wrong.

“It has been said that I sent a document about the intelligence agencies that would compromise national security.

“That’s wrong, wrong, wrong.”

OK. we got the message, Suella!

Her Tory backbench cheerleaders were led by her Brexiteer ally Sir John Redwood, who said, fawning: “She spoke for the nation in saying we need to control this problem.

“I hope that all men and women of good will get behind her.”

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Video from inside migrant centre

Her Brexiteer ally Steve Baker, now a Northern Ireland minister, sat alongside her on the front bench. Well, it’s not as if there’s any pressing business in Northern Ireland currently.

And her mentor and guru, the veteran right-winger and anti-woke crusader Sir John Hayes, to whom she sent an official document from her private email address and was sacked for it, slipped into the chamber quietly, midway through the long session.

Wisely, Sir John didn’t attempt to catch the eye of the chair, which was by then occupied by another deputy speaker, Nigel Evans.

Towards the end of the lengthy exchanges, the home secretary revealed her true feelings about her predicament.

“This political witch hunt is all about is about ignoring the facts of the problem,” she said.

Maybe. And while she did put up a fighting and uncompromising performance that delighted her supporters, she’s not out of trouble yet. Witch-hunt or not.

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