'Invasion of the South Coast': Braverman admits illegal migration is 'out of control' as she fights to keep her job

31 October 2022, 17:49 | Updated: 1 November 2022, 06:53

Suella Braverman was addressing MPs in the Commons on migration one day after a firebomb attack on a processing centre in Dover
Suella Braverman was addressing MPs in the Commons on migration one day after a firebomb attack on a processing centre in Dover. Picture: Alamy

By Asher McShane

The Home Secretary told MPs in the Commons this evening that she believes Britain is facing “an invasion on our southern coast.”

Suella Braverman, who is under fire after admitting to forwarding work documents to her personal phone six times, was addressing the house one day after a petrol bomb attack on an immigration site in Dover.

She said she was in government to try and fix the “hopelessly lax” immigration system and admitted “the system is broken. Illegal immigration is out of control."

She claimed she is serious about "stopping the invasion" on the southern coast of England, telling MPs: "Let's stop pretending that they are all refugees in distress."

Read more: Under fire Braverman admits forwarding work documents to personal phone six times

"Let's be clear about what is really going on here: the British people deserve to know which party is serious about stopping the invasion on our southern coast and which party is not.

"Some 40,000 people have arrived on the south coast this year alone. Many of them facilitated by criminal gangs, some of them actual members of criminal gangs.

Braverman: 'People coming here illegally from safe countries are not welcome.'

"So let's stop pretending that they are all refugees in distress. The whole country knows that is not true. It's only the honourable members opposite who pretend otherwise.

"We need to be straight with the public. The system is broken. Illegal migration is out of control and too many people are interested in playing political parlour games, covering up the truth than solving the problem."

But she faced fierce jeering from Labour MPs who accused the Conservatives for the current state of affairs.

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said government decision-making on migrants had “collapsed.”

Speaking about conditions at the migrant holding facilities in Manston, she said: “Over 4,000 people are now at a site meant to accommodate 1,800.

She said there are risks of “fire, disorder and infection" as well as "outbreaks of violence and untrained staff". She said it was a sign of “deeper government failures.”

She also said there had been a “total failure” to properly tackle people trafficking gangs in the Channel.

“Why has the home secretary refused our calls for a major new National Crime Agency unit with hundreds of additional specialist officers to work with Europol and others to crack down on the gangs, as well as the urgent work needed with France to get a proper agreement in place?” She asked.

She was immediately accused of whipping up hate after describing migrants as ‘invaders.’.

Zarah Sultana MP posted online: “Disgusted to hear Suella Braverman say there's an "invasion on our southern coast", just a day after a migrant detention centre was fire-bombed.

Language like this – portraying migrants as "invaders" – whips-up hate & spreads division.

She's totally unfit to be Home Secretary.”

Jess Phillips MP said: “Suella Braverman is disgusted with how much money is being spent on asylum hotels, says she couldn't believe it when she found out when she became Home Secretary. She's gonna be shocked when she finds out she was in the cabinet that approved and caused it.”

Ms Braverman also confirmed that the firebomb attack in Dover was not being treated as terrorism.

She said she has "never ignored legal advice" in relation to the use of hotels to house migrants crossing the channel, telling the Commons: "I foresaw the concerns at Manston in September and deployed additional resource and personnel to deliver a rapid increase in emergency accommodation.

"To be clear, like the majority of the British people I am very concerned about hotels but I have never blocked their usage.

"Indeed since I took over 12,000 people have arrived, 9,500 people have been transferred out of Manston or Western Jet Foil, many of them into hotels.

"And I have never ignored legal advice, as a former attorney general I know the importance of taking legal advice into account."

She had earlier claimed that housing migrants in hotels was costing the taxpayer "£6.8 million a day".

Her comments came hours after she admitted to forwarding work documents to her personal phone six times.

In a letter to the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee's chairwoman Dame Diana Johnson, Ms Braverman apologised for the breach while also attempting to clarify what happened.

There have been growing calls for Ms Braverman to step down from her role once again after her controversial reappointment in Rishi Sunak's Cabinet.

Ms Braverman initially resigned from the Truss Government on October 19 after sending a draft written ministerial statement (WMS) on immigration policy to Tory backbencher Sir John Hayes and - inadvertently - a staff member of Conservative MP Andrew Percy.

However, she revealed in her letter to the committee that between September 6 and October 19 she had sent official documents from her Government email to her personal address on six occasions.

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