Prominent figures on the far right have praised Suella Braverman’s speech in which she warned of the “existential challenge” posed by illegal migration, and vowed to “capitalise” on her intervention.
The home secretary has already caused concern among liberal Tory MPs over her apparent threats to leave the European convention on human rights (ECHR). In the speech in Washington DC last week, she suggested that being gay or a woman and fearful of discrimination should not be enough to qualify as a refugee in the UK.
However, her intervention also received support from established far-right groups in the UK. Mark Collett, a former protege of the BNP leader Nick Griffin who now leads the Patriotic Alternative group, was among those to endorse Braverman’s address.
“Suella Braverman has basically admitted multiculturalism has failed and that mass immigration is a threat to the west,” he wrote in a Facebook post. “This is a good thing. Now I know that many nationalists will complain that this is just a pre-election stunt and that it is nothing more than a desperate attempt to win back voters. I don’t know whether that is entirely true. What I do know, is that what she said is a good thing for nationalism.”
In the post, uncovered by the anti-fascist Hope Not Hate group, Collett added that Braverman had “legitimised the conversation around the failure of multiculturalism” by using her position to raise the issue. “It makes the BBC and other organisations look extremely stupid when they liken making statements such as ‘multiculturalism has failed’ to acts of terrorism,” he said.
“We shouldn’t lament Suella Braverman telling the truth, we should capitalise on this and do our best to take control of this situation and steer the national conversation in the correct direction.”
Analysis by Hope Not Hate also claimed that Braverman’s speech contained echoes of the “Great Replacement Theory” – the premise that white Americans and Europeans are being actively “replaced” by non-white immigrants. Braverman said that “more than one in five births are to foreign-born mothers”.
“Uncontrolled immigration, inadequate integration, and a misguided dogma of multiculturalism have proven a toxic combination for Europe over the last few decades,” she said. “We are living with the consequence of that failure today. You can see it play out on the streets of cities all over Europe. From Malmö to Paris, Brussels to Leicester.
“Nor should it blind us from this simple truth: If cultural change is too rapid and too big, then what was already there is diluted. Eventually it will disappear.”
The Britain First group also tweeted that it “fully endorses [the] Suella Braverman ‘multiculturalism’ remarks,” adding: “She is saying publicly what everyone at home is privately thinking.”
While senior Tories have accused her of “freelancing” with one eye on the next Tory leadership election, Downing St has not disowned the speech. Sunak has kept Braverman in the role despite party concerns and has made “stopping the boats” crossing the Channel one of his main priorities since becoming leader.
However, some Tories have supported Braverman. George Osborne, the former chancellor, told his Political Currency podcast that it is “too easy to say these views are only the views of the far right”.
“It’s a problem, as I say, for people like me who are quite liberal minded on immigration, and had our fingers burnt on things like the Brexit referendum. And it’s a problem for centre-left parties, who frankly I think sometimes get mildly embarrassed by the view of their own supporters in the kind of industrial heartland of the north.”
Georgie Laming, director of campaigns at Hope not Hate, called on Conservatives concerned by her rhetoric to speak out. “Suella Braverman’s speech has taken far-right tropes and conspiracy theories, like the Great Replacement Theory, and introduced them to the mainstream,” she said.
“We’ve recorded a huge rise in far-right anti-migrant activism, fuelled in part by the divisive language and tactics coming from the Conservative party. Those in the Conservative party who are uncomfortable with where their party is heading must call this out.”
The Home Office declined to comment.