Catholic priest uncle of Home Secretary warns her to be “cautious” about immigration language

A Delhi-based Catholic priest uncle of UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman has cautioned his niece about some of her language around immigration and urged her not to forget that she herself is a child of migrants.

Father Ayres Fernandes told the Times newspaper from India that he sees the need to clamp down on illegal immigration. However, the director of a retreat centre in Okhla said there was a need for more compassion towards refugees and asylum seekers.

“I only pray that she remembers that she herself was born to migrant parents, and therefore, she needs to be a little cautious when making such comments,” said Fernandes.

The priest, who grew up in Kenya with his four siblings, including Braverman’s father, Christie Fernandes, is believed to be estranged from his brother. Formerly a director at the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India, the 73-year-old told the British newspaper that he and another family member had discussed Ms Braverman’s political posturing with a relative and speculated her hardline approach may be due to being backed by Conservative Party right-wingers.

“She’s quite strong by herself, that much I know, she has her own thinking. But I believe that there is somebody backing her up to make such comments. But being a minister, holding such a position, maybe she should be a little cautious,” he said.

It comes after Ms Braverman’s Tory conference speech in Manchester earlier this week attracted criticism from within her own party ranks, with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak also refusing to back her statement about a “hurricane” of migrants.

“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 is an entirely realistic prospect,” said Braverman.

The minister of Goan heritage on her father’s side and Tamil heritage on her mother’s, families that migrated to Britain from Kenya and Mauritius, had also called into question the country’s multiculturalism in a speech in the US last week.

“Uncontrolled immigration, inadequate integration, and a misguided dogma of multiculturalism have proven a toxic combination for Europe over the last few decades… Multiculturalism has failed,” she declared.

Her uncle said that while he is not in regular contact with his niece, he had congratulated her when she became Home Secretary last year. The priest told ‘The Times’ that they happen to share a birthday and feels she is similar to a younger him as “very strong people in our thinking and attitude”.

“But with my experiences, I learned you need to change, you need to adjust, you need to give space to people and their way of life and opinions. And in politics that is very important — to be able to be open to others and others’ views and opinions. I pray for her every day that she may be able to calm down and relate with people in a better manner,” he said.


Pic: Lee Goddard, MoD, Crown Copyright