Suella Braverman accused of ‘victim blaming’ over response to violence at Knowsley asylum seeker hotel

Suella Braverman accused of ‘victim blaming’ over response to violence at Knowsley asylum seeker hotel

Related video: Holocaust survivor confronts Suella Braverman over 'dehumanising' language used about refugees

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Home Secretary Suella Braverman has issued a statement following violent disorder near a hotel housing asylum seekers in Knowsley on Friday night, and as usual, that’s gone about as well as you’d expect it to.

It was only last month that the Tory MP for Fareham was slammed for “shameful” remarks made during a constituency surgery, in which she refused to apologise for the language used to describe refugees when challenged by a Holocaust survivor.

Asked by 83-year-old Joan Salter why she felt the need to use words such as “swarms” and “invasion” when talking about immigration, Braverman responded by saying she wouldn’t say sorry for “the language that I’ve used” to “demonstrate the scale of the problem”.

While there is no record of Ms Braverman ever using the word "swarms" to describe asylum seekers, former Prime Minister David Cameron used the term back in 2015 during an interview with ITV News.

Now, after anti-refugee protesters in Merseyside turned violent - hurling missiles and damaging a police van near the hotel - Braverman took a whole day to write and publish a statement on social media condemning the incident.

She said: “I condemn the appalling disorder in Knowsley last night. The alleged behaviour of some asylum seekers is never an excuse for violence and intimidation.

“Thank you to [Merseyside Police] officers for keeping everyone safe.”

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Twitter users were quick to criticise Braverman’s statement, accusing Braverman of “victim blaming” in her remarks.

They also noted the lack of focus on the anti-refugee demonstrators in the statement, individuals who have been branded “far right” by organisations supporting refugees and asylum seekers.

On the same day as the home secretary’s statement, Merseyside Police confirmed 15 people have been arrested over the violent incident on Friday, and said officers began facilitating a peaceful protest and counter protest near Knowsley’s Suits Hotel.

“Sadly, a short while later a number of people, who were not part of the original protest group, turned up, and it is clear that they were only interested in causing trouble through violence and intimidation without any thought, or care, for other members of the public, or our officers,” they said.

Of course, this isn’t the first time that Braverman has decided to double down on divisive rhetoric just days after a shocking incident concerning immigrants.

Back in October, she was accused of “putting lives at risk” with claims of a “migrant invasion” – choosing to use these words just a day after a firebomb attack was launched on an immigration centre in Dover.

Has she no shame?

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This article was amended on February 12 2023 to make it clear that Ms Braverman has not used the word "swarms’"to describe asylum seekers.

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