Home secretary vows to stop Channel migrant crossings – and will ‘make Rwanda scheme work’

Politics

The new home secretary has vowed to stop small boats crossing the Channel and to find a way to “make the Rwanda scheme work”.

Suella Braverman, in her first speech in the job, received a standing ovation at the Conservative Party conference after promising to stop the illegal migrant crossings.

“We have got to stop the boats crossing the Channel. This has gone on for too long. But I have to be straight with you, there are no quick fixes,” she said.

“The problem is chronic. Organised criminal gangs are selling a lie to thousands of people. Many are drowning in the Channel.

“Many are leaving a safe country like France and abusing our asylum system.”

Ms Braverman told the Birmingham conference said she will work closely with France “to get more out of our partnership” both on the French coastline and “further upstream” against the criminal gangs smuggling people over.

This announcement was met with a standing ovation from the audience and prompted her to say she had not finished yet.

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The home secretary added that in order to prevent illegal migration “we need to find a way to make the Rwanda scheme work”.

She hit out at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) overriding the UK Supreme Court so the government’s first deportation flight to Rwanda was unable to take off.

Her predecessor, Priti Patel, launched the scheme to send migrants, who came into the UK via small boats in the Channel, to Rwanda in a partnership with the African country.

But no flights have yet left the UK due to the ECHR’s decisions, with Ms Braverman saying: “We need to take back control.”

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Modern slavery

She also said the largest group of migrants in small boats are currently coming from Albania, which she said is “a safe country”.

Ms Braverman said many of them claim to have been trafficked as modern slaves “despite them having paid thousands of pounds to come here, or having willingly taken a dangerous journey across the Channel”.

She said many are not modern slaves and their claims of being trafficked “are lies”.

Dover’s Tory MP Natalie Elphicke told Sky News she welcomed the measures and added that the British people will “absolutely help people in need of asylum” but the situation is abused daily in the town.

Ms Braverman also said there are “egregious examples of convicted paedophiles and rapists” making last-minute claims of modern slavery to block their deportation.

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Demonstrators outside the Royal Courts of Justice, central London, protesting against the Government's plan to send some asylum seekers to Rwanda, while a High Court hearing over the policy is ongoing. Picture date: Monday September 5, 2022.
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The Rwanda flights have yet to take off due to legal challenges

Not racist to want to control borders

In her wide-ranging speech, the home secretary said legal migration needs to be controlled so those who emigrate to the UK assimilate.

“It’s not racist for anyone, ethnic minority or otherwise, to want to control our borders,” said Ms Braverman, whose parents came from Kenya and Mauritius in the 1960s.

“It’s not bigoted to say that we have too many asylum seekers who are abusing the system.

“It’s not xenophobic to say that mass and rapid migration places pressure on housing, public services and community relations.

“I reject the Left’s argument that it is hypocritical for someone from an ethnic minority to tell these truths.”

Police officers detain one of the Extinction Rebellion activists who protested at the Houses of Parliament in London, Britain September 2, 2022. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
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Ms Braverman took aim at Extinction Rebellion protesters

Police should not take the knee

She also promised to back the police and to ensure they investigate every neighbourhood crime.

Members applauded when she said officers must have powers to “stop protesters who use guerrilla tactics” and warned activists from environmental groups Just Stop Oil, Insulate Britain and Extinction Rebellion that they will be jailed for breaking the law during protests.

She also said it was wrong for police to take the knee, join in political demonstrations and for male officers to strip search female suspects.

“More PCs, less PC,” she said to a roar of applause.

The home secretary also pledged to ensure the Prevent terrorism referral scheme is “fit for purpose”.

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