Calls for more humane asylum policy as Braverman sacked
14 November 2023
Suella Braverman has been removed from office as Home Secretary after criticising the Metropolitan police, and aggravating tensions on Armistice Day. Over the last year, she has repeatedly pursued policies attacking the rights of people crossing borders, dividing communities across the UK and overhauling our asylum system.
Braverman was made Home Secretary in 2022, losing the position briefly between 19th October and the 25th of October before being reinstated in the role. During this time, she has orchestrated an environment of hostility and division, inflaming culture wars, political debates and community tensions around asylum and immigration. Whilst her recent comments on police bias have catalysed her removal from office, her long-term legacy has been characterised by her unwavering pursuit of policies demonising and scapegoating people seeking safety in the UK.
The Rwanda Plan
One of her most widely known and derided policies has been her pursuit of the deportation of people seeking asylum to Rwanda. In 2022, she made headlines by telling journalists that it was her ‘dream’ to remove people to Rwanda. She stated she “would love to have a front page of The Telegraph with a plane taking off to Rwanda, that’s my dream, it’s my obsession,”. This plan would dramatically curtail the rights of people seeking asylum, removing them to Rwanda for asylum processing. The effect of this policy is a complete overhaul of our asylum system, robbing people seeking asylum of their human rights.
A decision on the lawfulness of this policy is due on Wednesday of this week.
Almost immediately upon taking the role of Home Secretary, Braverman began referring to people crossing borders using inflammatory and derogatory language. In October 2022, she referred to people seeking safety in the UK as an ‘invasion’, just days after a man threw firebombs at an asylum processing centre in Kent. She has continually referred to people seeking asylum using derogatory language weaponised to portray people crossing borders as threats and burdens, leading to a campaign against her inflammatory comments in the aftermath of the attack on Suites Hotel in Knowsley.
Comments on Child Sexual Abuse
She directed further comments at minoritised communities in April 2023, claiming that child grooming gangs in the UK were ‘almost all British-Pakistani'. This was proved factually incorrect – the Home Office’s own research found that a majority of offenders are from white backgrounds- and further demonstrates Braverman’s commitment to exacerbating existing tensions.
Comments on LGBT Asylum Claims
Only two months ago, Braverman suggested that people seeking asylum on the grounds of sexuality “purport to be gay when they’re not actually gay”, seemingly without any evidence. Under 2% of asylum claims in the UK include sexual orientation as a basis for the claim, and a majority are granted their refugee status.
Most recently, Braverman has been in the news for her comments presenting homelessness as a ‘lifestyle choice’, arguing that multiculturalism is a ‘failure’, and this month, suggesting that the police are ‘playing favourites’ and taking the side of left-wing protesters.
Her time as Home Secretary is littered with offensive, derogatory and targeted attacks, intended to sow the seeds of division between community groups. She has effectively polarised debate in the UK, and created a culture of fear and exhaustion in our asylum and immigration system. She leaves behind her a backlog of over 175,000 people waiting in limbo for an asylum decision, an unresolved court case on the inhumane Rwanda plan and a mess of unenforceable asylum legislation designed to strip people seeking safety of their human rights.
Whilst her tenure is over, her legacy of division and polarisation unfortunately lives on in policy and in our communities. With the immediate commitment of our new Home Secretary to ‘stopping the boats’, we call on him to change the trajectory. It is the job of the Home Secretary to keep people safe - the way to do this is to develop a humane asylum policy for those who are accessing their human right to safety. We implore him to overhaul this culture of fear, intimidation and hostility to build something better for people seeking sanctuary in the UK.
Iona Taylor (Advocacy and Campaigns Lead)