Suella Braverman plan to stop tents for homeless people junked from Kings Speech by No 10

Rishi Sunak refused to back his home secretary’s much-criticised claim rough-sleeping a ‘lifestyle choice’

Adam Forrest
Political Correspondent
Tuesday 07 November 2023 08:28 GMT
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Sunak refuses to criticise Braverman over homelessness comments

Home secretary Suella Braverman’s plan to restrict charities from giving out tents to homeless people has been junked from the King’s Speech by No 10.

Rishi Sunak is uncomfortable with the language used by Ms Braverman after she was roundly condemned for describing said rough sleeping “lifestyle choice”, The Independent understands.

The right-wing cabinet minister had proposed establishing a civil offence to deter charities from providing tents to homeless people in need.

Organisations could be fined for doing so if then tent is deemed to have caused a nuisance under the plans believed to have been pitched for inclusion in the King’s Speech.

But Ms Braverman’s plans are now undergoing scrutiny in government after being ditched from the government’s legislative slate, a move first reported by BBC Newsnight.

Mr Sunak refused to criticise Ms Braverman directly on Monday, but would not repeat or support her claim that rough sleeping was sometimes a “lifestyle choice”.

The potential law, not undergoing a closer look by No 10, would also seek to prevent the obstruction of shop doorways by rough sleepers who are using tents, according to the Financial Times.

In a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, Ms Braverman said the UK should not become San Francisco or Los Angeles and warned against rough sleeping becoming a “lifestyle choice”.

Housing charity Shelter was among the many charities who condemned the remarks. In a statement, it said: “Living on the streets is not a ‘lifestyle choice’ – it is a sign of failed government policy.”

Suella Braverman wanted restrictions on charities giving out tents
Suella Braverman wanted restrictions on charities giving out tents (PA Wire)

Justice secretary Alex Chalk declined to repeat Ms Braverman’s much-criticised remarks about rough-sleeping being a “lifestyle choice” on Tuesday ahead of the King’s Speech.

The cabinet minister told Sky News he would “take a different approach”. Mr Chalk said: “There’s often a very significant context which will be mental health issues, substance abuse problems, relationship breakdown, loss of a job and so on.”

He added: “We shouldn’t do anything which entrenches people’s rough sleeping. Because if you do that, effectively you’re condemning and consigning people to poorer health outcomes ... So to be kind you sometimes have to be robust and you sometimes have to be really quite firm.”

Pressed on Ms Braverman’s language, Mr Chalk claimed his colleague were in agreement: “I think she was writing on Twitter, and I actually had a chat with her about it. I don’t think she disagrees with anything that I’m saying now, namely that there is a context.”

Meanwhile, comedian Joe Lycett has reached his £50,000 fundraising target for a homelessness charity following controversial remarks from Ms Braverman about rough sleeping.

Responding to the comments on Instagram, addressing Ms Braverman as his “old friend”, Lycett said: “I always thought lifestyle choices were things such as cargo pants, fishing, and decorating your bathroom with a bowl of potpourri.”

Alongside an image of potpourri, Lycett announced his initiative to raise £50,000 for the homeless charity Crisis UK, which he surpassed on Tuesday morning.

Tory MP Natalie Elphicke also appeared to join in criticism of Ms Braverman. In a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, she said that in all her years helping homeless people “at no time, ever, has anyone said the answer lies in the removal of tents”.

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