Suella Braverman’s husband has described Gary Lineker’s comparison of rhetoric around the Home Secretary’s small boats crackdown with 1930s Germany as “offensive”.
In his first ever interview, Rael Braverman, 47, said he had tried to stay out of the debate surrounding his wife’s policies, but the controversy sparked by the BBC presenter’s tweet was “too much” for him to stay silent.
He told MailPlus: “There have been mocked-up images of Suella standing outside concentration camps, outside Auschwitz, laughing. I am Jewish. I lost family members in those concentration camps. I find that offensive.
“I was disgusted. Personally, I think making comparisons between our politicians and our country and Nazi Germany is intellectually lazy — and when you have public figures doing that, you kind of legitimise the abuse, make it acceptable.”
Mr Braverman said he had not seen any such memes before Lineker’s tweet and described the parallels drawn as “unacceptable on so many levels”.
“It really minimises the horror of what went on. It’s disrespectful to Holocaust survivors and to those who lost family members in the concentration camps, and that includes my family,” he said.
Mr Braverman offered to “happily debate” Lineker on the subject, citing his support for free speech and insisting that the BBC’s highest-paid presenter was entitled to object to Mrs Braverman’s policy of deporting small boat arrivals to Rwanda or their home country.
However, he added: “There are ways of talking about this, and I am a supporter of free speech, but a tweet like this is not the way.”
Earlier this week, the Home Office announced an extra £1 million in funding to enhance Jewish community security and establish a new dedicated task force.
Speaking at an event hosted by the Community Security Trust, Mrs Braverman warned that anti-Semitism is “too often” taken less seriously than other forms of racism.
“In too many aspects of British life, hatred directed at Jewish people has been tolerated or accepted,” she said. “In addition to physical attacks, desecration of cemeteries, vandalism of synagogues, we’ve seen the ancient thrive in a modern form online.”
She joined her husband in condemning photoshopped images imposing a picture of her laughing onto the Auschwitz concentration camp, saying: “These grotesque analogies diminish the tragedy and horror of the Holocaust. They are deeply offensive, and particularly insulting given that my husband’s family is Jewish.”
Lineker has not apologised for drawing the comparison between Ms Braverman’s language and 1930s Germany. He has returned to Match of the Day, having stepped back from his presenting duties at the height of the backlash to his tweet.
On Friday, the BBC confirmed that John Hardie, a former chief executive and editor in chief at ITN, will lead an independent review of the BBC’s social media guidelines triggered by the impartiality row.