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Suella Braverman row: Who’s scared of Rishi Sunak?

You won’t find a politician saying it loud, but fear matters.

Running a government or a political party is not a business where the aim is to hold hands and sing Kumbaya.

The task to is win power. To hold on to it. To get things done. And then win again.

Common beliefs, loyalty, and a desire to serve can bind politicians together.

But fear is one of the currencies prime ministers can require to succeed.

As one senior Conservative told me: “People need to be scared of Number 10.”

That force can stop ministers doing daft things, or make them do things they don’t want to, or just keep them in line.

Ultimately, it is the fear of losing their precious jobs, their red box, their ministerial limo, their standing, their reputation, that matters in the fraught day to day of government.

Rishi Sunak is never going to cosplay some kind of political hard man.

But he faces a political danger right now that every moment longer he keeps his headline-happy home secretary on, that fear falls away.

The prime minister is known not just for wanting to find the facts, but wanting to study them before making decisions.

We saw that in long running embarrassments over the tax affairs of the former Conservative Party chair, Nadhim Zahawi, and bullying claims about the previous foreign secretary, Dominic Raab.

In political terms both of those situations dragged on for aeons before the two ministers were shown the door.

But on this occasion there seems little need for a long-winded process or internal investigations into what happened.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman and her team were told to tone down her language in an article for The Times. They refused to make all the changes.

Either Rishi Sunak reckons that defiance merits a P45 or not.

But as I write Downing Street is in the uncomfortable position of having disowned the article, distancing themselves from the home secretary, but then delayed making a further decision.

Now they are stuck with almost impossible choreography.

“I think it all depends on this weekend,” says one senior MP.

Mrs Braverman’s language related to the policing of protests and Remembrance events.