Gary Mond

Suella Braverman is a woman of principle and she will be missed

The former Home Secretary understood the community. Without her determination, I worry that the government will not have the grit to do what is needed to tackle antisemitism


LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 20: Home Secretary Suella Braverman arrives for a cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street on June 20, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

November 16, 2023 16:29

The departure of Suella Braverman as Home Secretary will be a source of dismay to much of the Jewish community. We have lost a close friend in one of the great offices of state. This is proven by the emphasis placed in her letter to the prime minister after her dismissal, which refers to his “failure to rise to the challenges posed by the increasingly vicious antisemitism and extremism displayed on our streets since Hamas’s terrorist atrocities of 7th October”. She goes on to write about his apparent unwillingness “to consider legislation to ban the hate marches and help stem the rising tide of racism, intimidation and terrorist glorification threatening community cohesion”.

Mrs Braverman was referring to the fear among British Jews, which has accelerated — as have antisemitic incidents — in the past six weeks.

What endeared her to many were her values and the policies she espoused that derived from them. Perhaps most important — and so relevant for the Jewish community — is the concept of embracing the UK, its culture and its principles, and making them her own, as her immigrant parents did and as has the Jewish community. This has made her a strong supporter of the freedoms we cherish, and very aware of threats such as uncontrolled immigration and the rise of antisemitism, often disguised as anti-Israel hatred.

When Mrs Braverman became home secretary, she set out several goals: reducing legal migration, stopping the obstruction by international law of plans to put an end to the small boats, safeguarding single-sex spaces in schools and delivering on the Northern Ireland Protocol. Her lack of success in achieving her goals will have frustrated her immensely. She has been blocked by many in the cabinet, as well as others outside it. She has, however, established herself as a woman of principle and a champion of traditional views, many widely shared beyond the Conservative Party.

The Jewish community will also remember the row between Mrs Braverman and the Board of Deputies over immigration policy. Both the Board’s intervention on a matter that was wholly irrelevant to the Jewish community, and its president Marie van der Zyl’s pointless visit to would-be illegal immigrants in Calais, were inappropriate and disgraceful. The problem was not simply that this was outside the Board’s remit. More than that, it was an insult to the attempts by our government, championed by Mrs Braverman, to solve a pressing issue.

As an individual, I found her kind and willing to listen. I was one of ten communal figures invited to meet her at the Home Office a few weeks ago. Her goals in fighting Jew hatred were the same as ours. Her instincts were admirable. Yet I felt she was relatively powerless to battle antisemitism and frustrated by the inaction of those around her.

The community expects concrete action on antisemitism, with appropriate legislation if need be. If other European countries can stop the marches of Jew hate, we should be able to. What concerns me is that the loss of Mrs Braverman’s determination might — I hope I’m wrong — prove fatal to the government acting in the interests of the Jewish community.

Suella Braverman will not be forgotten any time soon. As a politician of conviction, she is in a small minority. She leaves a legacy of policies that most of the country supported, but which have not, or at least not yet, been implemented.

Gary Mond is Chairman, National Jewish Assembly

November 16, 2023 16:29

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