UK home secretary accused of racism by Conservative peer

UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman has been accused by Conservative Party peer Lady Warsi of using “racist rhetoric” in comments last month about sexual grooming gangs, The Guardian reported on Wednesday.

Braverman said British-Pakistani men are the main perpetrators of gang-based sexual exploitation, which has drawn the attention of the Conservative government as it seeks to clamp down on abuse.

Warsi — the first Asian person to lead the Conservative Party — told the LBC radio channel that Braverman’s ethnic background could not be used as a “defense mechanism” against accusations of racism, adding: “Brown people can be racist, too.”

Warsi called on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to discourage race-based comments among government figures, and urged him to send a “really strong message that this kind of rhetoric … has got to stop.”

When asked if she was labeling Braverman as racist, Warsi said: “I am calling her rhetoric racist. I am.”

Her comments on the home secretary are the latest in a series of criticism launched against Braverman following her remarks last month.

The British Pakistan Foundation earlier accused Braverman of portraying ethnic groups in a “divisive and dangerous way.”

On April 2, during the reveal of fresh government measures to tackle grooming gangs, Braverman highlighted the “predominance of certain ethnic groups — and I say British-Pakistani males — who hold cultural values totally at odds with British values, who see women in a demeaned and illegitimate way and pursue an outdated and frankly heinous approach in terms of the way they behave.”

Albie Amankona, who co-founded the group Conservatives Against Racism For Equality, tweeted: “I don’t understand how it’s possible for one person, Suella Braverman, to find themselves almost weekly, at the center of so much racial insensitivity. I’ve said it before — there is something not right there.”

Responding to the criticism, a Home Office spokesperson said: “The home secretary has been clear that all despicable child abusers must be brought to justice.

“And she will not shy away from telling hard truths, particularly when it comes to the grooming of young women and girls in Britain’s towns who have been failed by authorities over decades.

“As the home secretary has said, the vast majority of British-Pakistanis are law-abiding, upstanding citizens but independent reports were unequivocal that in towns like Rochdale, Rotherham and Telford cultural sensitivities have meant thousands of young girls were abused under the noses of councils and police.”