Weak rules 'allow 780m people to move country when they want' as Braverman takes aim at 'absurd' asylum system

26 September 2023, 00:01

Suella Braverman is taking aim at refugee conventions
Suella Braverman is taking aim at refugee conventions. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

International refugee rules should be reassessed because weak rules mean 780 million people could have the right to move country - making the whole system unsustainable, Suella Braverman is set to warn.

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The home secretary is set to say that arrangements cannot continue as they are while Britain faces tens of thousands of migrants crossing the Channel each year believing they could claim asylum when they land.

Almost 24,000 have arrived this year, with Rishi Sunak making "stop the boats" one of his key pledges. That figure is down from last year.

Efforts the government says would deter them, such as deporting them to Rwanda, are held up in the courts.

And supporters of tougher curbs on migrants hold the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) in contempt because of what they consider to be over-the-top protection it affords some cases.

Read more: MoD offers armed officers to Met as Braverman backs firearms cops who hand in weapons after Chris Kaba murder charge

Speaking in the US on Tuesday, Braverman will say "we now live in a completely different age" to when the UN Refugee Convention was put together in 1951.

"According to analysis by Nick Timothy and Karl Williams for the Centre for Policy Studies, it now confers the notional right to move to another country upon at least 780 million people," she is set to say to the American Enterprise Institute, a centre-right think tank in Washington.

Suella Braverman will hit out at refugee conventions
Suella Braverman will hit out at refugee conventions. Picture: Alamy

"It is therefore incumbent upon politicians and thought leaders to ask whether the Refugee Convention, and the way it has come to be interpreted through our courts, is fit for our modern age. Or whether it is in need of reform."

Tests on how refugees are defined have changed, lowering the threshold for claiming asylum, she will claim.

"Let me be clear, there are vast swathes of the world where it is extremely difficult to be gay, or to be a woman. Where individuals are being persecuted, it is right that we offer sanctuary," she will say.

Read more: Children as young as three preyed upon online as Braverman attacks Facebook plans to 'go dark' detecting child abuse

"But 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."

She is set to add: "The status quo, where people are able to travel through multiple safe countries, and even reside in safe countries for years, while they pick their preferred destination to claim asylum, is absurd and unsustainable."

The government wants to stop migrant crossings
The government wants to stop migrant crossings. Picture: Alamy

Braverman will meet her US counterpart at the Department of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, for talks on migration as she hopes to forge ties with the US over illegal arrivals.

Alp Mehmet, the chairman of Migrant Watch, said Braverman is right to "call out the conventions" and proposed withdrawing from the UN and European agreements if they are not reformed.

But the Refugee Council said the government should focus on tackling the creaking asylum system by clearing a "record backlog" and ensuring people who need protection can get safety in the UK instead of ripping up conventions.

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