Timeline of Suella Braverman's most controversial moments as home secretary

ITV News takes a look back at some of the former home secretary's most inflammatory remarks as her time in the role comes to an end.

By Elisa Menendez, ITV News Content Producer

The Prime Minister has sacked Suella Braverman as home secretary after she caused outrage by accusing the police of having a softer approach with what she described as pro-Palestinian “hate marches” in an inflammatory article.

Rishi Sunak axed Braverman from his Cabinet on Monday, amid what the Conservative Party said is part of a wider government reshuffle.

Downing Street had sought to distance itself from Braverman’s comments, saying it did not sign off on her article before it was published in The Times, earlier in November.

But it was far from the first time that Braverman had received widespread backlash and at times divided her own party over her controversial opinions.

During a year in the role, she regularly made remarks that critics said were done to stoke culture wars, with some arguing she was laying the groundwork for a Tory leadership bid.

A staunch Brexiter and the daughter of immigrant parents, Braverman repeatedly came under fire for her views on immigration and asylum seekers, while most recently she received criticism for claiming homelessness is a “lifestyle choice”.

Here, ITV News takes a look back at some of her most controversial moments as home secretary.

Comparing pro-Palestinian ‘hate marches’ to the Troubles, while the police ‘play favourites’

Calls for Braverman’s sacking were originally sparked after she claimed in The Times that some senior officers “play favourites” over how they police left-wing protests, such as the most recent pro-Palestinian marches.

In further widely-criticised comments in the piece, she claimed the police “largely ignored… pro-Palestinian mobs” and went on to compare the protests to scenes witnessed in Northern Ireland during the Troubles.

She claimed the marches are “not a cry for Gaza” but “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 organisers have links to terrorist groups, including Hamas.”

Braverman’s article had reflected her frustration with Metropolitan Police chief Sir Mark Rowley, who resisted pressure from senior Tories to ban the demonstration in the capital.

Initially, Rishi Sunak’s spokesman said he had “full confidence” in Braverman, but she was sacked as home secretary only days later.

The article came after Braverman was accused of dividing communities, when she labelled pro-Palestinian rallies “hate marches”.

Homelessness is ‘a lifestyle choice’

Just days before her comments on Northern Ireland, the former home secretary caused outrage by claiming those who are sleeping on the streets, are only doing so because it is a “lifestyle choice” they have made.

In a thread shared to X, formerly known as Twitter, she claimed that many living in tents on the streets are “from abroad”, as she vowed to crack down on “aggressive” begging and accused rough sleepers of causing “nuisance and distress to other people by pitching tents in public places”.

Her comments came amid plans to introduce restrictions on the use of tents in urban environments, including fining charities for handing them out if they’re deemed to have caused a nuisance – proposals the prime minister has not ruled out.

Homelessness charities hit out at Braverman, with Shelter saying homeless people should not be punished, and blamed the number of rough sleepers on the streets of England on “failed government policy”.

Crisis pointed out: “We don’t have nearly enough affordable homes and rents are soaring, leaving people destitute and forced to sleep rough.”

Comedian Joe Lycett waded into the debate and raised more than £50,000 for Crisis UK, after urging people to donate as he criticised Braverman’s remarks.

After surpassing the target within days, he wrote: “Of course my main thanks must go to Suella: without your lifestyle choice, of being callous and cruel towards the most vulnerable people in society, none of this would’ve happened.”

People seeking UK asylum ‘pretending to be gay’

In September, the former home secretary claimed “in many instances” asylum seekers pretend to be gay to to get “special treatment” and stay in the UK.

She told ITV’s Peston programme that “people purport to be gay when they’re not actually gay… in the effort to game our system”, saying it was “not fair and it’s not right”.

The comments were in defence of a speech she’d made in Washington, US, in which she claimed multiculturalism had “failed”, and warned of the West’s “existential challenge” of uncontrolled immigration. She questioned whether the application of the United Nations (UN) 1951 Refugee Convention is “fit for our modern age”.

She also argued that offering asylum to a person because they are discriminated against in their home country for being gay or a woman was not sustainable, and should not be enough to qualify for international refugee protection.

The comments sparked backlash from human rights and equality campaigners, LGBT+ charities and prominent public figures, like Sir Elton John, who said she risked “further legitimising hate and violence” against LGBT+ people who deserve “more compassion”.

Grooming gangs were ‘almost all British-Pakistani men’

The Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) waded into a row over claims Braverman made that grooming gangs are “almost all British-Pakistani men”.

A complaint was brought to IPSO by the Centre for Media Monitoring (CfMM), part of the Muslim Council of Britain, over the comments made by the former home secretary in a column published in the Mail on Sunday.

She wrote that the perpetrators behind the “grooming gangs phenomenon” were “groups of men, almost all British-Pakistani, who hold cultural attitudes completely incompatible with British values” and that they have been “left mostly unchallenged both within their communities and by wider society”.

IPSO ruled the comments were “misleading” where it was not made clear that this referred specifically to the abuse scandals in Rotherham, Rochdale and Telford, and instructed the Mail on Sunday to publish a correction.

Home Office research, published in 2020, contradicted Braverman’s comments, finding group-based child sexual offenders were mainly white males under 30.

The correction later linked the claim to high-profile cases such as Rotherham.

A migrant ‘invasion’

The former home secretary faced backlash after she claimed there is an “invasion” of migrants on the southern coast of England.

She received backlash for her choice of language, which refugee charities described as “highly offensive” and said the rhetoric “puts so many people at risk”.

Her remarks came just days after incendiary devices were thrown at a Dover migrant processing centre, causing a fire.

Braverman on a trip to see how the Greek authorities are trying to crack down on migrant crossings. / Credit: PA

Braverman told the Commons in November last year that around 40,000 people had arrived on the south coast of England in 2022, “many of them facilitated by criminal gangs, some of them actual members of criminal gangs”.

“So let’s stop pretending that they are all refugees in distress. The whole country knows that is not true,” she added.

Labour MP Zarah Sultana said she was “disgusted” and that describing migrants as invaders “whips-up hate and spreads division”, while Lord Alf Dubs – a child refugee who escaped Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia – said invaders are “seen as the enemy” and are “hostile people”.

“Whereas what we’re talking about are people who are fleeing from war, persecution, threats to their safety and so on,” he added, calling the comments “low”.

Her ‘dream’ and ‘obsession’ to watch asylum seekers deported to Rwanda

Speaking at the Tory Party Conference in October last year, Braverman said it was her “dream” to watch a plane of asylum seekers take off for Rwanda before Christmas.

Her comments came after a deportation flight of asylum seekers to Rwanda, organised by the British government, had been blocked by an injunction from the European Court of Human Rights several months prior.

She told a fringe event she would “love to be here claiming victory, I would love to be having a front page of the Telegraph with a plane taking off to Rwanda, that’s my dream, that’s my obsession”.

Sending official government documents to her personal email

That same month last year, Braverman admitted she sent official government documents to her personal email on six occasions – a breach of the ministerial code.

The security breach triggered her resignation as home secretary under Liz Truss’ premiership.

She said she had sent the official documents from her government email to her personal address so she could refer back to them on her mobile, while conducting virtual Home Office meetings on her work phone or to take into interviews.

Braverman admitted to doing so on six occasions between September 6 and October 19, 2022, and only in incidents she judged as “reasonable”.

She insisted none of the documents were classified as secret or top secret and “did not pose any risk to national safety”.

Despite the breach and concern from Conservative MPs, she was picked for the top Cabinet job again just days later by Sunak when he became prime minister.

Sunak defended his decision saying she had recognised her “error of judgement”, he’d accepted her apology and was “delighted to welcome her back”.

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