A government adviser on violence against women appears to have effectively resigned from her role on live radio after saying she is on a “completely different planet” to the home secretary, Suella Braverman.
Nimco Ali, a social activist who was appointed to the independent role by the then home secretary, Priti Patel, in 2020, used an interview to criticise Braverman’s stance on the issue and announce her intention to relinquish her role.
Asked if she was happy to remain as an independent adviser despite disagreeing with the home secretary, she told Times Radio: “No. I’m committed to ending violence against women and girls, and I think there’s many avenues in order to continue that.”
Ali, a survivor of female genital mutilation who campaigns against the practice, added: “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.”
The chief executive of the Five Foundation, whose website says it advocates “for better funding streams to women on the African continent and beyond”, was pressed on whether her time as an adviser was coming to an end because of a disagreement with Braverman.
She said: “I think the fair upsum is that I wouldn’t feel comfortable. 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.”
The Home Office declined to comment, while a Whitehall source claimed Ali’s contract was due to expire on 22 December.
In May, Ali suggested in an interview that her calls for street harassment to be made a crime were being blocked. She told the BBC’s Political Thinking with Nick Robinson podcast that her plan had endured “pushback”, hinting that the then prime minister, Boris Johnson, had not fully supported the proposals.
Ali was pushing for street harassment – such as wolf-whistling, catcalling, staring persistently or telling a stranger to smile – to be made a crime with on-the-spot fines for offenders. She said Patel as home secretary was “very much behind” her campaign but “then you meet other people saying no”.
“It’s been frustrating and it’s been disappointing,” she added.
Asked if this had come from the prime minister’s advisers, she replied that the source had been “a lot closer than that”, adding people would be able to interpret “my silence”.
However, No 10 said at the time that tackling violence against women was a top priority.
Ali has backed the Conservatives in the past and was a supporter of Johnson. Labour hit out at Braverman over the apparent resignation, calling it “damning” for the home secretary.
Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, said: “She has been sacked by one prime minister, sidelined by another, criticised by colleagues and now a significant independent adviser on violence against women and girls making clear she cannot work with her.
“Those around her clearly don’t think she’s capable of doing the job. It shows how weak Rishi Sunak was to appoint her.”
A source close to Braverman said: “The home secretary is 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 backed a new law on public sexual harassment.
“She will continue to focus on this policy and the rights of of women and girls to live safely in our country.”