THE Home Office has asked charity Freedom from Torture to remove a video showing UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman telling a Holocaust survivor that she “won’t apologise” for describing refugees as “swarms” and “an invasion”.

The video, which has been viewed over 1.3 million times on Twitter, shows comments made by Bravermen in response to a question asked by Joan Salter MBE at a Q&A event on January 13.

Braverman was confronted by Salter, 83, during a meeting in her Fareham constituency in Hampshire on Friday evening.

Salter, who has been recognised with an MBE for her work on Holocaust education, likened Braverman’s rhetoric on migrants attempting to cross the English Channel to that used by the Nazis during the Second World War.

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In footage of the exchange, provided by the charity Freedom From Torture, Salter said: “I am a child survivor of the Holocaust.

“In 1943, I was forced to flee my birthplace in Belgium and went across war-torn Europe and dangerous seas until I finally was able to come to the UK in 1947.

“When I hear you using words against refugees like ‘swarms’ and an ‘invasion’, I am reminded of the language used to dehumanise and justify the murder of my family and millions of others.

“Why do you find the need to use that kind of language?”

Speaking about her parents, Braverman said: “They owe everything to this country and they have taught me a deep and profound love of Britain and British people.

“Their tolerance, their generosity, their decency, their fair play.

“That also means that we must not shy away from saying there is a problem.

“There is a huge problem that we have right now when it comes to illegal migration, the scale of which we have not known before. I won’t apologise for the language that I have used to demonstrate the scale of the problem.

“I see my job as being honest with the British people and honest for the British people. I’m not going to shy away from difficult truths nor am I going to conceal what is the reality that we are all watching.”

Braverman added that she was “incredibly proud” of the UK’s recent immigration record but added that “we have a problem with people exploiting our generosity, breaking our laws and undermining our system”.

“We must accept the enormity of the problem if we’ve got any chance of solving it,” she said.

Braverman’s answer was greeted with applause from the audience.

In a tweet published this afternoon, the Home Office said:

“The Home Secretary attended an event last night and took questions, including on immigration policy. Footage of a conversation with a holocaust survivor is circulating online. The video has been heavily edited and doesn’t reflect the full exchange.

“The Home Secretary listened carefully to the testimony. She thanked her for sharing her story. The Home Secretary also expressed her sympathy and set out why it is important to tackle illegal migration. 

“Since the footage misrepresents the interaction about a sensitive area of policy, we have asked the organisation who posted the video to take it down."

Salter, who has received an MBE for her work on Holocaust education with organisations including the Aegis Trust, the UK’s National Holocaust Centre and the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, said: “I am deeply disturbed by Suella Braverman’s hateful and dehumanising rhetoric. Hearing powerful politicians describing human beings as “swarms” reminds me of what I fled in the 1940s. 

“After the Holocaust, the UK government pledged to protect people fleeing war, torture and persecution, so that the horrors that befell my family and innumerable others were never repeated. Words have consequences: rather than fuelling hatred towards refugees, this government should ensure this country remains a place of sanctuary for those in need.”

Salter was born Fanny Zimetbaum in Brussels in 1940 to Polish Jewish parents. She was three months old when Belgium was invaded by the Nazis.

Following the invasion, she escaped to France with her mother and sister before being taken by the Red Cross to the US in 1943. Salter remained in foster care in America until being reunited with her parents in 1947 in London, where she lives to this day. 

Sonya Sceats, Chief Executive at Freedom from Torture, said: "It is not surprising that the Home Office is pressuring us to remove this video. The Home Secretary's response to Joan Salter MBE betrays an unacceptable lack of understanding of the impact that her words have on people who have fled war, torture and persecution.

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“In our work supporting torture survivors, we see every day where the Home Secretary’s dehumanising language can lead. Our government should treat people seeking sanctuary in this country with compassion and humanity, not demonise them.”

Less than a week into her tenure as Home Secretary under Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Braverman referred to her job as being “about stopping the invasion on our southern coast”.

Braverman has not used the word “swarm” on record, but it has been used by prominent politicians including former Prime Minister David Cameron and former UK Independence Party (Ukip) leader Nigel Farage.

In July 2015, Cameron told journalists that “a swarm of people” were “coming across the Mediterranean seeking a better life”.

In the same month, Farage said during an ITV interview that he had been “stuck on the motorway and surrounded by swarms of potential migrants” who “tried the back door of the car to see whether they could get in”.

He later back-pedalled, telling an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that he did not “use language like that” when asked if he would refer to migrant “swarms”.