Shapps: Braverman’s migration speech is ‘certainly no Enoch Powell situation’
The Defence Secretary said Ms Braverman was ‘absolutely correct’ to warn about the scale of global movement of people.
Suella Braverman’s rhetoric is “certainly no Enoch Powell situation”, her Cabinet colleague Grant Shapps said as he defended her claim that a “hurricane” of mass migration is coming.
The Defence Secretary said the Home Secretary, whose comments caused unease among some senior Conservatives on Tuesday, was “absolutely correct” to warn about the scale of the global movement of people.
Mrs Braverman, whose parents came to the UK from Kenya and Mauritius in the 1960s, used her Tory conference speech to say “unprecedented” migration is “one of the most powerful forces reshaping our world”.
The Defence Secretary told Times Radio: “We’ve already seen a lot of movement … we could see a lot more – a hurricane, as she describes it, of people moving.”
Asked about comparisons that have been made to former Tory minister Mr Powell’s infamous “rivers of blood” speech, which was widely blamed for inflaming racial tensions in the 1960s, Mr Shapps said: “So many people are from immigrant backgrounds in this country.
“I think I’m third generation myself … Suella’s first generation … so this is certainly no Enoch Powell situation, is it? To make the very obvious point.”
Addressing delegates on Tuesday, Mrs Braverman had said: “The wind of change that carried my own parents across the globe in the 20th century was a mere gust compared to the hurricane that is coming.
“Because today, the option of moving from a poorer country to a richer one is not just a dream for billions of people. It’s an entirely realistic prospect.”
Following the speech, Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch told a Spectator conference event that politicians should be careful about how immigration policies are discussed “so that people aren’t getting echoes of things that were less palatable”.
Fellow Cabinet minister Michelle Donelan later declined to repeat the rhetoric used by the Home Secretary, telling BBC Newsnight: “I would say it’s a problem, my language is different to her language.”
Former justice secretary Robert Buckland said it was important to consider the reality of global migration, but urged senior politicians to “analyse in a mature way why these things are happening”.
“We know because climate change is making it more difficult to live in these places, we have war and conflict – people are trying to escape that for a better life,” he told Sky News on Wednesday.
“I think it would be better for a home secretary to reflect about the language that they use.”
Mrs Braverman’s speech drew heckles from the Tory chairman of the London Assembly, Andrew Boff, who took umbrage with her allusion to the “poison” of “gender ideology”.
A Conservative for about 50 years, Mr Boff said he felt sure she would not be chosen as the next Tory leader, despite speculation that her remarks on migration were an early leadership pitch.
“Luckily that’s not going to happen … I believe in the ultimate common sense of the party. Also, I very much hope that Suella Braverman learns about the power of her words and moderates her tone,” he told LBC.
“I’ve had so many contacts over the past few hours from people who are concerned as I am that we are using this culture war battleground to no good effect at all and we’re actually hurting people.
“And we shouldn’t be doing that as Conservatives. That’s not the Conservative Party I joined and I think we’re better than that.”