London: UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman is under fire from the Opposition and refugee activists for classifying an increase in the number of refugees landing on the country’s shores seeking asylum as an “invasion” by migrants on the border.
The Indian-origin Cabinet minister told Parliament that illegal migration to the country “is out of control” and that the asylum system is “broken”, with the sheer numbers arriving via the English Channel in small boats making it impossible to provide accommodation for all.
Her statement followed a violent incident involving a petrol bomb attack at one of the migration centres on England’s southern coast over the weekend.
“The British people deserve to know which party is serious about stopping the invasion on our southern coast, and which party is not,” Braverman told the House of Commons.
“Some 40,000 people have arrived on the south coast this year alone. For many of them, that was facilitated by criminal gangs; some of them are actual members of criminal gangs, so let us stop pretending that they are all refugees in distress. The whole country knows that that is not true. It is only Opposition members who pretend otherwise,” she said.
Her junior minister in the Home Office, Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick, was forced to defend the statement saying his boss was right to be straight with the public about the “sheer scale” of illegal migration.
“In a job like mine, you have to choose your words very carefully. And I would never demonize people coming to this country in pursuit of a better life,” he told ‘Sky News’ when asked about the phrase.
The Opposition Labour Party accused the Home Secretary of using “highly inflammatory” language and the Scottish National Party (SNP) said such “incendiary language makes a mockery of [Prime Minister] Rishi Sunak’s claims about so-called compassionate conservatism”.
The UK’s Refugee Council also condemned the language used by Braverman. The Opposition has been piling pressure on the government after reports of overcrowding at a UK Border Force processing centre in Manston, Kent, on England’s southern coast.