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Wall of silence greets Suella Braverman on visit to Cambridge pro-Palestine camp





Former home secretary Suella Braverman was met with a wall of silence when she visited the Cambridge for Palestine encampments in the centre of the city today.

Student leaders instructed campaigners on the two encampments in Cambridge - one at King’s, the other on the lawn at Senate House - not to speak to the right-wing politician sacked twice from the Conservative government within a year.

Tony Booth, left, greets former home secretary Suella Braverman, right, outside King's College Cambridge. Picture: Susnata Karmaker
Tony Booth, left, greets former home secretary Suella Braverman, right, outside King's College Cambridge. Picture: Susnata Karmaker

A Cambridge for Palestine spokesperson told the Cambridge Independent: “We do not want our movement co-opted by someone who wants to use the event to steer themselves back to political relevance. We’re focused on Gaza and focused on getting the university to divest from its arms investments.”

The politician was interviewed by GB News outside Senate House late this morning (16 May). She was also photographed standing in front of Cambridge academic and activist Tony Booth, who was carrying a sign reading ‘Openly Jewish against visible genocide’.

Speaking to the Cambridge Independent immediately after the visit, Tony said: “Braverman came here this morning with GB News. The idea was to provoke students into saying injudicious things - such as leaving out condemnation of Hamas or Israel. She was constantly asking people questions like ‘What’s your message to Israel?’ and ‘What’s your message to Hamas?’

Tony Booth with colleagues Jenny Hardacre and Sue Buckingham at the Cambridge for Palestine encampment, 16 May, 2024. Picture: Mike Scialom
Tony Booth with colleagues Jenny Hardacre and Sue Buckingham at the Cambridge for Palestine encampment, 16 May, 2024. Picture: Mike Scialom

“The student organisers had decided that nobody should say anything at all - that nobody should speak back, which is quite difficult if you’re somebody who likes to talk. I carried this notice. They came and spoke to me. They said: ‘What’s your message?’ I just pointed to my message. The decision was that anything that was said would be cut and manipulated. The student decision was good. Then they went to the second encampment at Senate House. They can spin it as much as they like but the message is that this is an incredibly peaceful and determined camp which has actually escalated to moving outside Senate House. My message for them would have been ‘Not for anyone at any time anywhere’ but I didn’t deliver it as my voice, only through my placard.

“She was almost in Rwanda visit mode. It was charm which spilled over into triumphalism because she knows Sunak is on the way out and she’s desperately hoping she’s on the way in.”

Former home secretary Suella Braverman visits Cambridge for Palestine student encampment, 16 May 2024. Picture: Sue Buckingham
Former home secretary Suella Braverman visits Cambridge for Palestine student encampment, 16 May 2024. Picture: Sue Buckingham

The University of Cambridge student protesters, who set up a camp in front of King’s College earlier this month, stepped up their protest this week with the occupation of the Senate House lawn on Wednesday (15 May).

Dozens of protesters climbed the fences in the early morning and placed their tents on the famous lawn in a bid to force the university to sit down with them and discuss their demand for the university to end its financial ties to Israel as the conflict in Gaza, which now has a death toll of more than 35,000, moved into its eighth month.

This second occupation of the university’s premises followed the delivery of a petition signed by academics and students demanding the university commit to disinvesting from all companies involved with Israel. Around 100 protesters, including ten academics wearing gowns, walked through the centre of the city to the Old Schools building on Tuesday to deliver the letter addressed to the university vice-chancellor and pro-vice-chancellors.

Senate House lawn occupation by Cambridge for Palestine, 16 May, 2024. Picture: Mike Scialom
Senate House lawn occupation by Cambridge for Palestine, 16 May, 2024. Picture: Mike Scialom

The student movement stated they had 'no choice' but to expand into Senate House after the university failed to meet the movement's deadline, and assured they would leave the area immediately after the preconditions are met, and the meeting is set.

A spokesperson for Cambridge for Palestine said: “Disrupting graduation is a last resort which we absolutely do not wish to take, but as the University of Cambridge has refused thus far to engage in negotiations, we have been left with no other choice.

Senate House lawn occupation by Cambridge for Palestine, 16 May, 2024. Picture: Mike Scialom
Senate House lawn occupation by Cambridge for Palestine, 16 May, 2024. Picture: Mike Scialom

“We have taken this action two days before Friday’s graduation ceremony in order to give the University of Cambridge ample time to respond, and we will leave Senate House as soon as the University of Cambridge meets our pre-conditions and holds a meeting with our negotiation team.”

Senate House lawn occupation by Cambridge for Palestine, 16 May, 2024. Picture: Mike Scialom
Senate House lawn occupation by Cambridge for Palestine, 16 May, 2024. Picture: Mike Scialom

Professor Bhaskar Vira, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education at the University of Cambridge, said: “The university has been in regular and ongoing contact with students who have been impacted by the tragic events in Gaza and Palestine. We support freedom of speech and protest within the law.

Pro-Palestine rally in Cambridge, 15 May, 2024. Picture: Kashif Darr
Pro-Palestine rally in Cambridge, 15 May, 2024. Picture: Kashif Darr

“From the first day of this protest last week, with my colleague Prof Kamal Munir, we have been extremely clear that we would be happy to talk with our students and engage with them. To date we have received only anonymous emails.

Pro-Palestine rally in Cambridge, 15 May, 2024. Picture: Kashif Darr
Pro-Palestine rally in Cambridge, 15 May, 2024. Picture: Kashif Darr

“We remain ready for constructive engagement with our students, but it is impossible to have a conversation with an anonymous group.”

On Tuesday, the Student Union (SU) Welfare and Community Officer, Harvey Brown, resigned, citing the SU's "disconnect" with student movements and failure to "express public opposition to Israel’s ongoing bombardment of Gaza" amongst reasons for his resignation.

Suella Braverman's office has been contacted for comment.



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