HOME Secretary Braverman issued a vicious onslaught against refugees yesterday, seeking to establish her ultra-right wing credentials ahead of the Tory Party Conference in Manchester next week.
Speaking to the American Enterprise Institute in Washington DC, Braverman called for the United Nations Refugee Convention to be scrapped.
Quoting a report by the right-wing Margaret Thatcher-founded Centre for Policy Studies, Braverman claimed that under the 1951 Convention, 780 million people worldwide could come to the UK to claim asylum.
Gnashing her teeth, Braverman declared that under her Home Secretaryship: ‘Anyone who enters the UK illegally will be deemed inadmissible to our asylum system, and following assessment, will be detained, and swiftly removed – to their home country if that’s safe, or to a safe third country if not.’
She claimed that the UN Refugee Convention is ‘incentivising millions of people to try their luck. Why has the international community, so far, collectively failed to explore any serious reform?’ she asked rhetorically, replying: ‘The first reason is that it is very hard to renegotiate the instruments. The second is much more cynical – the fear of being branded a racist or illiberal.’
The Refugee Convention was drawn up following World War Two and has at its centre the principle that refugees should not be returned to countries where they face threats to their life or freedom.
Almost 150 countries have signed up to the Convention and it is considered a cornerstone of the international asylum system.
Braverman’s speech was immediately widely condemned.
Enver Solomon, Chief Executive of the Refugee Council, responded: ‘A world where the UK and other western nations pull up the drawbridge and turn their backs on those who have been tortured, persecuted and faced terror because of their gender, sexuality or any other reason, is a world which turns its back on a belief in shared humanity and shared rights. After the horrors of the Second World War, the international community chose to stand up for those principles. Abandoning them is not an option.’
Sonya Sceats, CE of Freedom from Torture, said: ‘Having already trampled over international law with the Illegal Migration Act, it is shocking to see the Home Secretary imploring the US and other democracies to tear up treaties designed to protect human rights.’
Jacqueline McKenzie immigration lawyer at Leigh Day Solicitors said: ‘I certainly don’t agree with the Home Secretary that it is too broad… The UNHCR don’t know where the 780 million figure comes from, it has probably come from an analysis of who are poor people across the globe and there are actually large numbers of people in this country who actually qualify under that heading.’