'Fear of being branded a racist' is preventing global asylum reform says Braverman

Tuesday, 26 September 2023

Suella Braverman has urged the need for reform to the United Nations' Refugee Convention saying, the west faces an 'existential threat' if global asylum rules are not tightened.

In a speech to the American Enterprise Institute think tank in Washington DC, the Home Secretary questioned whether the 1951 accord was “fit for our modern age”.

She said it is time for the “definition of who qualifies for protection” to be “tightened” as she advocated for changes to international treaties governing refugee rules.

She added that millions of asylum seekers are being incentivised to “try their luck” in a system that poses an existential threat to the West if it is not reformed.

The speech saw the Home Secretary hit back at critics, arguing that concerns over immigration does not make one an “idiot” or a “bigot”.

In the address, she said that the “cynical” reason that countries had together failed to reform the decades-old global asylum system was a “fear of being branded a racist or illiberal”.

“Any attempt to reform the Refugee Convention will see you smeared as anti-refugee.

“Similar epithets are hurled at anyone who suggests reform of the ECHR (European Convention on Human Rights) or its court in Strasbourg.

“I reject the notion that a country cannot be expected to respect human rights if it is not signed up to an international human rights organisation,” she said.

The Home Secretary has previously received criticism for saying, offering asylum to a person because they are gay, a woman or fearing discrimination in their home country is not sustainable.

She added: “As if the UK doesn’t have a proud history of human rights dating back to Magna Carta, and the ECHR is all that is holding us back from becoming Russia.”

Ms Braverman also referenced her own family background, acknowledging that some immigration is necessary but it needed to be controlled by states.

“I am the child of immigrants.

“It is no betrayal of my parents’ story to say that immigration must be controlled.

Without a major overhaul and international co-operation, the senior Conservative warned that developed nations face being wiped out by a wave of economic migration.

“Just as it is a basic rule of history that nations which cannot defend their borders will not long survive, it is a basic rule of politics that political systems which cannot control their borders will not maintain the consent of the people, and thus not long endure,” she said.

The Cabinet minister is tasked with helping to deliver the Prime Minister’s pledge of stopping the boats from crossing the Channel, one of five commitments that Rishi Sunak hopes to deliver ahead of a likely election next year.

Almost 24,000 migrants have arrived into the UK via small boats since January.

Boat carrying around 50 migrants enters English waters via The English Channel / Credit: Getty Images

The Home Secretary also said multiculturalism has “failed” in Europe and threatens social cohesion in the nation state.

“Uncontrolled immigration, inadequate integration and a misguided dogma of multiculturalism have proven a toxic combination for Europe over the last few decades.”

She said migration had been “too much, too quick” to the UK in the past 25 years, with “too little thought given to integration and the impact on social cohesion”.

“If cultural change is too rapid and too big, then what was already there is diluted — eventually it will disappear,” she added.

She warned of the UK’s resources being stretched thin due to illegal migration, acknowledging the cost of the UK’s asylum system has roughly doubled in the last year and now stands at nearly £4 billion, stressing other places including New York face similar pressures.

“Unless countries can prevent or rapidly remove illegal migrants, pressures on the state will compound over time. Accommodation cannot be magicked out of thin air”, she said.