A senior UK rabbi has joined Jewish lawyers and politicians in lining up to condemn migrant “invasion” claims made by the home secretary during a debate about the Channel migration crisis.
Suella Braverman was under pressure to explain data security breaches, as well as allegations of appalling conditions at a migrant centre, when she appeared in the Commons on Monday.
But in attempting to defend her record the home secretary claimed her policies were in place to deal with the small boats bringing over migrants which she suggested was an “invasion on the south coast”.
Muswell Hill synagogue’s Rabbi David Mason told Jewish News Braverman’s remarks “made me feel pained as a Jew and as a human.”
Labour’s Dame Margaret Hodge accused the home secretary of engaging in “dog-whistle politics.”
During her appearance in the Commons, the home secretary denied she had blocked the use of hotels by those attempting to seek asylum, and then attempted to blame the last Labour government for a “broken” asylum system.
She claimed illegal migration was “out of control” and that she was the victim of a “witch-hunt” over demands that she now resign from her post.
Braverman claimed she was speaking on behalf of the “patriotic majority of British people from every background that want safe and secure borders.”
Other Tory MPs on the right of the party used her comments to launch further inflammatory attacks on those attempting to reach the UK, with the Ipswich MP Tom Hunt demanding “send them back.”
Stoke on Trent North MP Jonathan Gullis appeared to later name a hotel housing migrants in a television interview.
In response Rabbi Mason said:”Hearing the comments last night of the home secretary made me feel pained as a Jew and as a human.
“Compassion and loving-kindness are fundamental values of our religion.
“Using the terminology of ‘invasion’ to generalise about those seeking safety and a better life in the United Kingdom and allowing atrocious conditions for asylum seekers could not be further from those values.”
Meanwhile Labour’s Dame Margaret Hodge added:”“As someone who has fled conflict as a child and came to the UK as a refugee, I am all too aware of the language which intends to cause division and sow hatred in society.
“The comments we saw yesterday in the House of Commons are abhorrent – have no place in our democracy. Dog-whistle politics solves nothing, it is now on the Home Secretary to step up and solve this crisis.”
Leading barrister Adam Wagner described Braverman’s remarks as “properly UKIP/Trump-style.”
The human rights expert tweeted: “I don’t think there is another senior politician like her – properly UKIP/Trump-style.
“Her statements on the fire bombing of the immigration centre were I think the most instructive: she didn’t mention the migrants.”
Wagner was referring to her response to the attempted fire bombing of a migrant centre in Dover at the weekend.
Manston, in Dover, is at the centre of an overcrowding scandal after Braverman was reported to have ignored legal advice that the government was detaining asylum seekers at the site for unlawfully long periods by refusing to book hotels.
Braverman had tweeted:”. My thoughts are with those affected, the tireless Home Office staff and police responding. We must now support those officers as they carry out their investigation.”
Braverman has previously spoken of her Jewish husband Raeldescribing him to Jewish News as a “very proud member of the Jewish community” whose family had previously made aliyah and contributed as members of Bushey Synagogue.
In a significant intervention on Tuesday, Robert Jenrick, the Conservative immigration minister, appeared to criticise the home secretary’s language in a Sky News interview.
He said:”In a job like mine you have to choose your words very carefully and I would never demonise people coming to this country in pursuit of a better life.”
Jenrick also has a Jewish Israeli-born wife, with their children are brought up as Jewish.
The government came under further scrutiny over the situation at the Manston migrant centre after a new report – published on Tuesday and based on an inspection in July – revealed detainees were not allowed to close toilet doors fully and had to sleep on the floor.
Charlie Taylor, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, said the home office needs to “get a grip” on the situation.
The Jewish Council for Racial Equality (JCORE) said it was “is horrified by comments made in Parliament yesterday by the Home Secretary.
“It is disgraceful to see a government minister repeating the language of the far-right, and referring to people fleeing conflict and torture, including child refugees, as an “invasion”.
“To many British Jews, such appalling language is sadly familiar. In 1938, the Daily Mail condemned “the way stateless Jews from Germany are pouring into this country.”
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