Government adviser quits over UK minister’s views on women, race

A UK government adviser has resigned from her post over what she claims are differences of opinion about women’s rights and race with Home Secretary Suella Braverman.

Nimco Ali OBE, a close friend of Carrie Johnson, wife of former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, quit on air during a conversation on Times Radio a few days before her contract with the government as an adviser on violence against women and girls was due to expire.

“I’m committed to ending violence against women and girls, and I think there (are) many avenues in order to continue that,” Ali said when asked if she was happy to remain in her job. 

“I’m just saying that Suella and I are on completely different planets when it comes to the rights of women and girls — and also the way that we talk about ethnic minorities and specifically people like me who are from a refugee background.”

She added: “I think I can definitely say that I wouldn’t feel comfortable in serving under Suella or actually saying that she is somebody that we probably have the same feminist ideals as.”

Ali, 39, came to the UK aged 4 from Somalia and has long been a vocal campaigner for women’s rights, having co-founded The Five Foundation, which lobbies for action against female genital mutilation, and stood for election in 2017 for the Women’s Equality Party before switching to support Johnson’s Conservatives in 2019 — the same year she was made a member of the Order of the British Empire.

She has also lobbied for harassment of women in public to be made illegal, a motion now set to be voted on and which is backed by the government, including Braverman. “I would want to see things like sexual harassment on the street being banned. I want to see better education. And I really want to understand that we have a social contract that has been broken,” she said in 2021.

“Women and men in this country do not trust each other, and that is heartbreaking. But ultimately, I also know that violence against women and girls is not inevitable; it can be prevented.”

Braverman, a practicing Buddhist and the daughter of Indian migrants to the UK from Kenya and Mauritius, has come under fire in recent weeks for taking a tough stance on immigration to the UK, which this year saw a net total of over half a million people arrive in the country, with around 50,000 making the trip illegally across the English Channel in small boats.

A source close to the home secretary told The Times she was “determined to make our streets and homes safer for women and girls. That’s why she has made violence against women and girls one of her key priorities at the Home Office and today she backed a new law on public sexual harassment.

“She has already visited a women’s refuge center to spend time with the women there and hear their stories and experiences. She will continue to focus on this policy and the rights of women and girls to live safely in our country.”