Among the first duties of any government is to guarantee its citizens’ safety and security against external and internal threats. This is a focus taken for granted in international affairs, but fades into the background of domestic politics when we face few immediate threats.

Yet public security is as crucial in domestic politics as in international affairs. The guarantee of public order and safety underpins economic and cultural vitality, creating a secure environment that nurtures the conditions for citizens to work, relax, raise families, and engage positively with the rest of society.

The security of its citizens is not the duty of the modern, liberal democratic state. It must also uphold a web of sometimes conflicting rights crucial to the operation of democracy. Those rights can be imperilled at the extremes by an excessive focus on security. But in a healthy democracy, the two feed off one another.

Security and freedom are intertwined facets of a flourishing society, and no government that fails to guarantee them is fit for purpose.

In the United Kingdom, that responsibility falls first and foremost on the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary. As the Cabinet Secretary directly overseeing policing, counterterrorism, and public safety more broadly, her role in guaranteeing security is critical.

As dusk falls on this Conservative government’s time in office, however, we have a Home Secretary who is not simply unable to uphold public security but seems committed to undermining it.

We find ourselves with a Prime Minister either unwilling to bring his Home Secretary to heel because he agrees with her actions and public statements or unable to do so because she poses a significant political threat to him. Perhaps both.

Suella Braverman has no interest in upholding international law, human rights, or even the fundamental liberties that secure democracy. When any of these carefully won, constructed, and preserved institutions interfere with her ability to implement her preferred policies or even give voice to viewpoints she disagrees with, her instinct is to undermine them.

That is one thing. Even if it doesn’t always feel like it, we are lucky enough to live in a relatively robust democracy. Suella won’t be stripping us of our rights anytime soon – parliamentary sovereignty will see to that. The system is strong enough to withstand the whims of a single rogue Home Secretary.

But over the week leading up to Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday, she crept towards the red line beyond which she would be imperilling public security before leaping over it on Thursday.

Her characterisation of pro-Palestinian and pro-ceasefire protests as “hate marches” demonised the marchers, the overwhelming majority of whom are peaceful protesters dissenting from the government’s Israel policy and calling for the government to push for a ceasefire.

She mischaracterised those marching as engaging in “an assertion of primacy by certain groups – particularly Islamists – of the kind we are used to seeing in Northern Ireland” and alleged, in essentially Trumpian language and without offering evidence, that some of the organisers have links to Hamas.

By doing so, she not only insulted and angered all of Northern Ireland’s communities but attempted to link hundreds of thousands of British citizens protesting for peace to a horrific terrorist group a continent away.

In the same piece, she attacked the Metropolitan Police, accusing them of “double standards” and playing favourites in their policing of protests, undermining their operational independence and faith in the police in general, which are critical to their ability to preserve public order.

Her column cannot be confused for anything other than an effort to whip up hatred and undermine the institutions that guarantee public security. When a far-right counterprotest erupted into violence on Saturday morning, with counterprotesters attacking police and reportedly chanting “You’re not English anymore” at them, nobody should have been surprised.

The far-right has never needed an excuse to engage in violence, of course. Violence is the far right’s political modus operandi from the Fascista to their modern-day counterparts. But Braverman had given them an excuse, regardless.

The duty to guarantee public security is never more vital than when a febrile national atmosphere prevails. It demands statespeople and leadership to douse the flames. Instead, we have a Home Secretary pouring lighter fluid on them.

The Prime Minister’s office waffled over whether or not Number 10 had seen the column – first, they hadn’t, then they had, before it emerged that they had demanded changes before signing it off, some of which were not implemented. Nevertheless, Braverman somehow retains the Prime Minister’s confidence.

Certainty on Thursday that she would be sacked or forced to resign has given way to speculation as to why she is still in post. One reading is that this is another case of Sunak using Braverman to vice-signal to the Conservative right. While he may not call pro-ceasefire protesters “hate marchers” or attack the Metropolitan Police himself, don’t worry, he secretly agrees with you that Hamas-linked woke types are undermining British values.

The other is that he is too weak to get rid of her. Braverman is deeply unpopular with the public, and culture war politics holds little appeal to voters. An Ipsos poll this week found that just 16% of the public, and less than half of Conservative voters, have a favourable opinion of her. A separate Ipsos study conducted with King’s College London found that most voters think culture war issues are confected by politicians seeking to distract from actually important issues.

But the Conservative Party’s membership is a different, altogether weirder beast. Among them, Braverman and her politics are a genuine threat to Sunak.

Neither Braverman nor Sunak are statespeople. Let us call a spade a spade and a bucket a bucket: Suella Braverman is a dangerous authoritarian, and Rishi Sunak is a Prime Minister so weak that he cannot defend public security from his own Cabinet.

And the Conservative Party cannot currently provide the leaders that the country needs. The continued survival of this hobbling government is a constant threat to public security.

We are past the point of calling for Braverman to go. We need statespeople and genuine leadership, not the immature and dangerous politicking of the Sunak government. If the Conservative Party cannot provide that, they must call a snap election and let the public elect a government that can.

This column was published prior to Suella Braverman's sacking