Suella Braverman has caused controversy after attending a pro-Israel demonstration in central London on Sunday (January 14). After the former UK Home Secretary introduced her Public Order Bill in October 2022, in an attempt to restrict protest in this country, her participation this weekend has left many labelling her a hypocrite.
In a demonstration to mark 100 days since Hamas invaded Israel and the war began, thousands of protesters attended a rally in Trafalgar Square, calling for the release of the Israeli hostages still being held in Gaza.
Wiping away tears as speakers addressed the crowd, Braverman told Sky News she was there “to show solidarity with Israel” and those “still held captive by Hamas”, before urging the country “to stand with Israel continually throughout this bitter and cruel and evil conflict”.
The rally came a day after tens of thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters marched through the streets of central London calling for an end to Israel’s retaliation, in what was the seventh National March for Palestine since October, organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.
Sacked by the Prime Minister in November, the former Home Secretary told the Jewish Chronicle in March 2023, that her husband Rael is “a proud Jew and Zionist” and the couple have family serving in the Israel Defence Forces (IDF).
Sunday’s demonstration involved a video message from Israel’s president, Isaac Herzog, who thanked the UK for standing with Israel and speaking out “with clarity, pride and passion” in their defence. He acknowledged and sent thanks to “every branch of British leadership” for whom “the truth reigns clear” including King Charles, PM Rishi Sunak, the UK government and leader of the opposition, Keir Starmer and his colleagues.
Former Conservative MP and cabinet minister under David Cameron, Lord Eric Pickles, also spoke at the rally as “a committed and unapologetic Zionist”. He said the majority of Saturday’s protestors were not antisemitic but “happy to walk with people who are antisemitic”.
The Met Police took to X, @metpoliceuk, following Sunday’s demonstration to inform the public that “a man who shouted antisemitic abuse from a passing car was stopped by officers” and “has been arrested for a racially aggravated public order offence”.
Braverman’s presence at the weekend caused outrage not due to her motivations, but her presence at a protest in the first place. In October 2022, during her time as Home Secretary, she pushed through a highly controversial amendment to an already very criticised ‘anti-protest bill’ that would ultimately give the government more power to restrict public protest.
It would allow the Home Secretary to apply for injunctions against those involved in those protests she deemed a “serious disruption” to public infrastructure and services and give the police increased powers to arrest anyone they consider violating said injunction.
After passing a final vote in the House of Commons, it was argued the Public Order Bill now aligned “the UK’s anti-protest laws with those in Russia and Belarus”. Jun Pang, a representative from the rights group ‘Liberty’, said the amendment gave Braverman the power to “clamp down on protests as and when the government chooses” and warned it would have “devastating consequences for dissent”.
Several people took to X, formerly Twitter, in the wake of Braverman’s attendance at the protest over the weekend, with one user @ahiggitt saying “I find it hard to believe Ms Braverman is just an unprincipled, disingenuous hypocrite” while another user @I_amMukhtar joked “I’m old enough to remember when Suella Braverman wanted to ban protesting”.
X user @bmay said “Great to see Suella Braverman is now in favour of protests in Trafalgar Square after all – Oh, it’s just the ones she agrees with”. In a similar remark, @lorrainemking said “Isn’t Suella Braverman against protests? Or is it only protests that she disagrees with she wants banned?”
@impausibleblog shared a video with two clips of the former Home Secretary: the first is taken from her interview with Sky News at the demonstration this weekend, where she said, “we need to stand with Israel continually throughout this bitter and cruel and evil conflict”. The second is from an interview two months ago where, when referring to pro-Palestine marches, she said “there is only one way to describe those marches, they are hate marches”.
Suella Braverman’s attendance at the pro-Israel rally this weekend has caused a stir with members of the public who see her previous attempts to restrict protest as the height of hypocrisy.
Edited by: Kaiyah Ellison
Photo credit: Sky News
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