Culture Editor Ilina Jha contributes a poem on the theme of refuge, focusing on Suella Braverman and the UK government’s response to the refugee crisis

Written by Ilina Jha
Images by Debby Hudson on Unsplash , Julie Ricard on Unsplash

I wrote this poem in response to Suella Braverman claiming that fearing discrimination for being LGBTQ+ is not enough reason to seek asylum in the UK. Like so many others, I was horrified by this deeply disturbing and inhumane rhetoric; as a queer person, I felt (and still do feel) worried for my queer siblings across the globe – the UK asylum system is already very difficult for refugees seeking asylum on the basis of their sexuality. These latest comments from the Home Secretary feed into the UK government’s increasingly hostile attitude to refugees, so National Poetry Day (which was marked on 5th October) having ‘Refuge’ as its theme this year could not be more relevant. With that in mind, I wanted to share this poem for our first Poetry Corner, which we hope to make a longer-running feature of the Culture section.


Is it honour, Mrs Braverman,

To stand up on television

And foster hatred and revulsion

for those who need our compassion?

Is there honour in screaming

“Stop the Boats!”, Mrs Braverman,

When blood is shed and streaming,

And the bells that toll are the never-ending cries

Of the ones left behind

After the rest have drowned and died.


Tell me why, Mrs Braverman,

You can look a woman in the eye

And claim she’s out of harm’s way

Because she ‘doesn’t look gay’?

Tell me why, Mrs Braverman,

‘Discrimination’ isn’t enough.

They’ve lost their jobs,

their homes,

their means of keeping their children alive.

You must know they cannot survive –

Is there honour, Mrs Braverman,

In sending them home to die?


Is it honour, Mrs Braverman,

To turn your back on misery?

To leave them stranded in torture,


violent death or malady?

Is it honour, Mrs Braverman,

To send them to Rwanda?

A place you’d rather flee than fly to –

But that doesn’t fit your propaganda.


They are not ‘invaders’, Mrs Braverman,

Just weary travellers in need.

They are our sisters, friends, and brothers;

They are our uncles, sons, and mothers.

Is it honour, Mrs Braverman,

To turn the tide against them so?

All they ask is a spot beside the hearth;

A place to shelter from the fatal snow.


Take down your titles; this is insufferable.

Mrs Braverman, you are not the Right Honourable.


Image of refugees walking to accompany poem about Mrs Braverman

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