WATCH: Suella Braverman refusing to apologise to Holocaust survivor over ‘invasion’ rhetoric to describe immigration
and live on Freeview channel 276
The Fareham MP was confronted by Joan Salter, 83, during a constituency meeting yesterday evening. Ms Salter – made an MBE for Holocaust education work – likened Ms Braverman’s rhetoric on migrants crossing the English Channel to that used by the Nazis during the Second World War.
In footage of the exchange, shared in full by the charity Freedom From Torture, Ms Salter said: ‘I am a child survivor of the Holocaust. In 1943, I was forced to flee my birthplace in Belgium and went across war-torn Europe and dangerous seas until I finally was able to come to the UK in 1947.
‘When I hear you using words against refugees like “swarms” and an “invasion”, I am reminded of the language used to dehumanise and justify the murder of my family and millions of others. Why do you find the need to use that kind of language?’
Speaking afterwards, she added: ‘I am deeply disturbed by Suella Braverman’s hateful and dehumanising rhetoric. Hearing powerful politicians describing human beings as “swarms” reminds me of what I fled in the 1940s.
‘After the Holocaust, the UK government pledged to protect people fleeing war, torture and persecution, so that the horrors that befell my family and innumerable others were never repeated. Words have consequences: rather than fuelling hatred towards refugees, this government should ensure this country remains a place of sanctuary for those in need.’
Ms Braverman said she ‘shared a huge amount of concern and sympathy’ over the ‘challenge’ of illegal immigration, adding her own parents were not born in Britain. She added her parents ‘owe everything’ to Britain and no politician should ‘shy away’ from discussing the illegal immigration ‘problem’.
‘There is a huge problem that we have right now when it comes to illegal migration, the scale of which we have not known before,’ Ms Braverman said. ‘I won’t apologise for the language that I have used to demonstrate the scale of the problem.
‘I see my job as being honest with the British people and honest for the British people. We have a problem with people exploiting our generosity, breaking our laws and undermining our system.’ Her response was greeted with applause.
Born Fanny Zimetbaum in Brussels in 1940 to Polish Jewish parents, Ms Salter was three months old when Belgium was invaded by the Nazis. She escaped to France with her mother and sister, before being taken by the Red Cross to the US in 1943.
She was reunited in London in 1947, where she has lived since. Less than a week as Home Secretary, under Rishi Sunak, Ms Braverman referred to her job as being ‘about stopping the invasion on our southern coast’.
The Home Office said a shortened version of the video, circulating on social media, should be removed because it ‘misrepresents the interaction’ and concerns a ‘sensitive area of policy’. A spokesperson added: ‘The video has been heavily edited and doesn’t reflect the full exchange.’
Ms Braverman has not used the word ‘swarm’ on record. It has been used by ex-prime minister David Cameron and former UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage.