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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
David Hughes

Suella Braverman faces backlash for ‘incendiary’ language in Tory conference speech

Suella Braverman was on Tuesday accused of “fanning the flames of division” after using her Tory conference speech to say that a “hurricane” of mass migration is coming.

The Home Secretary warned about the scale of the movement of people around the world, and said “millions” could seek to enter the UK.

Mrs Braverman, whose parents came to the UK from Kenya and Mauritius in the 1960s, said “unprecedented” mass migration was “one of the most powerful forces reshaping our world”.

“The wind of change that carried my own parents across the globe in the 20th century was a mere gust compared to the hurricane that is coming,” she said.

“Because today, the option of moving from a poorer country to a richer one is not just a dream for billions of people.

“It’s an entirely realistic prospect.”

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael said: “Yet again Suella Braverman seems more interested in fanning the flames of division than getting to grips with the challenges facing the country.“

She should focus on tackling the asylum backlog and unsolved crimes epidemic, instead of spouting this deeply divisive and irresponsible rhetoric in a transparent attempt to appeal to the Tory membership.”

Following Mrs Braverman’s speech, Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch said that politicians needed to be careful about how immigration policies are discussed.

Speaking at a conference event hosted by The Spectator, she said: “We live in a multiracial society.

“We’re very, very comfortable with that because if we weren’t you wouldn’t have a prime minister that we have, we wouldn’t have the Home Secretary or the Business Secretary that we have.

“But we have to be very careful about how we explain and express immigration policies, so that people aren’t getting echoes of things that were less palatable.”

Mrs Braverman’s speech drew heckles from the Conservative chairman of the London Assembly Andrew Boff, who took umbrage with her allusion to the “poison” of “gender ideology”.

Mr Boff was removed from the conference hall, later accusing the Home Secretary of a “homophobic rant”.

The Home Secretary suggested the Human Rights Act, introduced under the last Labour government, was among a series of laws and regulations which had “enmeshed” the Government’s effort to tackle the small boats crisis in the English Channel.

Home Office figures have confirmed that more than 25,000 people have been detected crossing the Channel in small boats this year.

The Prime Minister has made tackling the crossings one of the five priorities of his leadership, with Mrs Braverman warning against “luxury beliefs” in open borders, and that Britain under a Labour government would “go properly woke”.

Mrs Braverman said the future “could bring millions more migrants to these shores, uncontrolled and unmanageable, unless the government they elect next year acts decisively to stop that happening”.

Talking about “illegal immigration”, she said: “Our country has become enmeshed in a dense net of international rules that were designed for another era. And it is Labour that turbocharged their impact by passing the misnamed Human Rights Act.

“I’m surprised they didn’t call it the ‘Criminal Rights Act’.”

Returning to the theme of human rights later in her speech, the Home Secretary confirmed she would bring forward a new law, aimed at preventing registered sex offenders from “changing their identities”.

She said: “Let me tell you something. I don’t care if anyone thinks this is interfering with their human rights. It’s time to worry less about the rights of sexual predators and more about the rights of victims.”

Ms Braverman said the Tories stand with the “many” against the “privileged woke minority”.

“We stand with the many, the law-abiding, hard-working common-sense majority, against the few, the privileged woke minority with their luxury beliefs who wield influence out of proportion to their numbers,” she said.

Warning about how under Labour “Britain would go properly woke”, she said: “Things are bad enough already, we see it in parts of Whitehall, in museums, in galleries, in the police and even in leading companies in the City, under the banner of diversity, equity and inclusion, official policies have been embedded that distort the whole purpose of these institutions.

“Highly controversial ideas are presented to the workforce and to the public as if they’re motherhood and apple pie: gender ideology, white privilege, anti-British history. And the evidence demonstrates that if you don’t challenge this poison, things just get worse.”

At this point, Mr Boff, a “proud member” of the Conservative Party – who was sat near the front of the hall, could be heard to shout out.

He was then hauled out of the conference centre, and told members of the press Ms Braverman’s speech was “making our Conservative Party look transphobic and homophobic”.

“Our party has a proud record of standing up for LGBT+ rights and she is destroying it,” he added.

Meanwhile, Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick suggested Boris Johnson’s administration had not been tough enough on reducing legal migration to the UK.

“I feel that, and I think Suella would agree, that there were wrong choices taken when we left the European Union…. By Boris Johnson and his administration,” he told LBC.

“And that has led to far too many people coming into the country – and that we now need to correct those.”

Green Party MP Caroline Lucas responded: “Utterly repulsive speech by Suella Braverman referring to a ‘hurricane’ of migration, as her dehumanising rhetoric plumbs new depths.

“The hurricane I’d like to see is one which sweeps her culture war-stoking, dog-whistling, hard-right party from office.”

Labour MP John McDonnell said: “As we moved on from the 1980s, I hoped that we’d also moved on from the right-wing racism that then stained our society. How naive I was.

“Suella Braverman with her reference to “hurricanes” coming is as divisive and dangerous as Enoch Powell’s ‘rivers of blood’ rhetoric of the 1960s.”

Veteran journalist Darren Lewis added: “When I hear repugnant language like Braverman’s today, I’m saying something.

“Saying something is calling out her vile language as the kind of thing that leads to kids bullied at school, neighbours - families - being harassed and worse. Much worse.

“We know because we’ve seen it. Many have lived it. Enough.”

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