Suella Braverman has provoked renewed anger after claiming in a speech that illegal migration poses an “existential challenge for political and cultural institutions of west”.
Speaking to the American Enterprise Institute in Washington DC, the home secretary referenced the Holocaust before claiming that the UN’s 1951 refugee convention must be reformed to tackle a worldwide migration crisis.
Addressing the UK’s own small boats crisis she claimed to the right-wing think-tank:”Nobody entering the UK by boat from France is fleeing imminent peril.
“None of them have ‘good cause’ for illegal entry.
“The vast majority have passed through multiple other safe countries, and in some instances have resided in safe countries for several years.
“There is a strong argument that they should cease to be treated as refugees during their onward movement.”
Rabbi David Mason, executive director of HIAS+JCORE, a Jewish organisation campaigning for refugees, was among senior communal figures to react angrily to the home secretary’s speech.
He told Jewish News:”Instead of using refugees and multiculturalism to create more division, surely our government should be thinking about better ways of creating cohesion and a society free from conflict.”
Mason, whose new communal role around refugee matters follows the merger of HIAS (originally the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society), and JCORE, (Jewish Council for Racial Equality), also raised concerns about Braverman’s use of the Holocaust as a means of measuring suffering in the aftermath of the Second World War.
“Surely the lessons we have learned as a people is to understand the suffering of those escaping persecution of whatever nature?,” he said.
“And with that, we desperately need government policies that are fair on refugees, and which understand the potential that those seeking refugee status can contribute to our society.”
The journalist Hugo Rifkind, who is himself Jewish, was also among those to criticise Tuesday’s speech by Braverman.
He tweeted:”Remarkable to hear Braverman say multiculturalism has failed.
“She’s a British Home Secretary descended from Goan Indians from Mauritius and Kenya, married to a Jewish husband, in a government headed by Britain’s first Hindu PM. What would successful multiculturalism look like?”
Human rights barrister Adam Wagner had earlier tweeted:”Suella Braverman is absolutely right that in 1951. when the Refugee Convention was born, many would not have considered being persecuted for being gay, or a woman, was ‘real’ persecution.
“Thankfully, in 2023, we have moved on from that prejudice.”
Remarkable to hear Braverman say multiculturalism has failed. She's a British Home Secretary descended from Goan Indians from Mauritius and Kenya, married to a Jewish husband, in a government headed by Britain's first Hindu PM. What would successful multiculturalism look like?
— Hugo Rifkind (@hugorifkind) September 26, 2023
Setting out her first reason for tackling illegal migration, Braverman said: “Uncontrolled immigration, inadequate integration, and a misguided dogma of multiculturalism have proven a toxic combination for Europe over the last few decades”.
During the speech Braverman claimed her own parents – her father was kicked out of Kenya and her mother was recruited from Mauritius at the age of 18 to work in the NHS – had succeeded because they “came here lawfully, and played by the rules.”
Sam Freedman, a policy expert and former senior adviser government adviser also tweeted:”Braverman’s speech is a lengthy and tedious attack on her own government’s immigration policy. Apart from anything else it’s an obvious breach of collective responsibility.”
Adam Langleben, outgoing national secretary of the Jewish Labour Movement, tweeted:”A Tory home secretary only flies to the US to give a controversial, reactionary and populist speech to a right wing thinktank if she thinks she is going into opposition shortly and there will be a contest. Starting gun on a sprint to the hard right for the Tory leadership.”
In her speech the Home Secretary argued multiculturalism has failed and that “the nation state must be protected.”
She claimed “uncontrolled” migration was putting unsustainable pressure on the taxpayer in the UK.
At one point in the speech she suggested “immigration is behind at least 45 per cent of demand for new housing in the UK.”
She infuriated campaigners for LGBT+ rights by also claiming:””We will not be able to sustain an asylum system if in effect, simply being gay, or a woman, and fearful of discrimination in your country of origin, is sufficient to qualify for protection”
Braverman ended her speech by calling for an international debate on reform of asylum laws.
She asked:”Could the ECHR [European convention on human rights] be more transparent and accountable in how it interprets human rights, and give greater power to nation states to make arguments and present evidence?”
Braverman also claimed at one stage in the speech:”UK police chiefs have warned me of heightened levels of criminality connected to some small boat arrivals, particularly in relation to drug crime, exploitation, and prostitution.”
Labour shadow home secretary Yvette Copper tweeted:”Suella Braverman has so lost grip of Tory asylum chaos, she is targeting and scapegoating LGBT people.
“Deeply divisive, damaging political game playing – unworthy of her office. Instead of blaming people persecuted in places like Uganda for who they love, she should sort chaos at home.”
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