After a year-long stint in the Conservative Party government, marked by animated racist fear-mongering, on Monday, November 13, controversial UK home secretary Suella Braverman was asked to leave the office by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
The Tory government sacked her following her tirade against security forces, for supposedly being “soft” on pro-Palestine solidarity demonstrators. Her statements ahead of the Palestine demonstration also stirred up a violent far-right response in London.
Sunak replaced Braverman with foreign secretary James Cleverly, while former PM David Cameron was chosen as the new foreign secretary. Even though, progressive groups expressed relief at the ouster of Mrs. Braverman, groups including Stand Up to Racism warned that “Braverman has gone but the government’s racist offensive and the threat of the far-right remain.”
The Sunak government has recently earned enough notoriety for its inhumane anti-refugee policies. The Home Office under Braverman took out a relentless and unapologetic crackdown on refugees and other deprived sections.
However, it was Braverman’s hostility towards the Palestinian cause that took her to the edge. In an article she penned in The Times on November 8, she accused the police of being soft towards pro-Palestine protests and not doing the same with far-right demonstrations.
She also likened the marches in support of Palestine to terrorism, stating they are “an assertion of primacy by certain groups — particularly Islamists — of the kind we are more used to seeing in Northern Ireland. Also disturbingly reminiscent of Ulster are the reports that some of Saturday’s march group organizers have links to terrorist groups, including Hamas.”
Many believe it was these remarks that provoked a far-right mobilization in London on November 11, called to counter a pro-Palestine rally, on Saturday, ahead of Remembrance Day, an annual commemoration of soldiers who lost their lives during WWI.
Rishi Sunak also attacked the Palestine solidarity demo by stating that protests planned on and around Armistice Day (Remembrance Day) would be “provocative and disrespectful” and pose risks for war memorials such as the Cenotaph in London.
According to reports, the pro-Palestine march in London on Saturday was peaceful and was attended by more than one million people who demanded an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. The same day, under the auspices of “protecting the Cenotaph and Armistice Day monuments”, a thousand-member-strong far-right mob also marched in the city to counter the Palestine solidarity action and confronted the police. The Palestine demo did not even approach the armistice day monument.
On November 12, The Morning Star in its editorial, condemned the far-right attacks and Braverman’s comment by calling out that ‘Braverman’s boys’ have disgraced the Cenotaph while she disgraced the entire nation.
In its statement, Stand Up to Racism accused Rishi Sunak and Suella Braverman of legitimizing far-right figures like Tommy Robinson, the Democratic Football Lads Alliance, and the Nazi National Front, who called for mobilizations on both Saturday and Sunday in London.
According to Weyman Bennett, co-convenor of Stand Up To Racism, “In recent months home secretary Suella Braverman has all but endorsed the far-right antisemitic Great Replacement Theory – that argues that waves of migrants and refugees are undermining Western culture”.
The Palestine Solidarity Campaign told the media that “for weeks Braverman has sought to delegitimize the call for a ceasefire in Gaza and the broad support for the rights of the Palestinian people by defaming those marching for peace as “hateful” and terrorist sympathizers”
“She has lied about the intentions of the 11 November march, suggesting it was intended to head to Whitehall to disrupt Remembrance Day commemorations, knowing full well that the route of the march was taking it away from central London.”
The Tory government’s crackdown on refugees led by Rishi Sunak and Braverman also emboldened many right-wing, anti-refugee, vigilante groups across the country.
Over the past few years, the UK has been reeling under a protracted economic crisis which has seen an increase in levels of poverty and in the cost of living. The government has been trying to place the onus of the crisis largely on the ongoing war in Ukraine. It has also used refugees as an excuse, making unsubstantiated claims that they are the major factor contributing to the crisis in the country and unleashed a crackdown on the refugees and asylum seekers.