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Hardline ex-minister warns UK PM over immigration stance

By AFP - Dec 07,2023 - Last updated at Dec 07,2023

A handout photograph released by the UK Parliament shows Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak speaking during the Prime Ministers’ Questions (PMQs) in the House of Commons, in London, on Wednesday (AFP photo)

LONDON — Britain’s hardline former interior minister Suella Braverman on Wednesday issued Prime Minister Rishi Sunak an ultimatum to get tougher on immigration or face certain wipeout at the polls.

Braverman, sacked last month after a series of outspoken comments, told parliament it was “now or never” to tackle “mass, uncontrolled, illegal immigration”.

Her statement comes just a day after her successor as home secretary, James Cleverly, signed a new treaty with Rwanda that the government hopes will see thousands of migrants deported to cut record immigration levels.

Braverman, a trained lawyer, has called for tougher measures before, and criticised the UN convention on refugees and European human rights legislation for blocking the government’s plans.

But her latest comments go further, and will be red meat to fellow right-wingers in the Conservative Party, who see having total control over Britain’s borders as the final piece in the Brexit jigsaw.

“The Conservative party faces electoral oblivion in a matter of months if it introduces yet another bill destined to fail,” Braverman told MPs, referring to expected emergency legislation.

The Tories faced a stark choice to “fight for sovereignty or let our party die”, she said, adding: “I refuse to sit by and allow us to fail.”

Sunak, she said, needs “political courage” to go further than his existing plans, which were formulated after supreme court judges deemed the deportation policy illegal under international law.

She called for any new bill to address the court’s concerns about the safety of Rwanda to allow flights before the next election expected next year, by “blocking off all routes of challenge”.

“The powers to detain and remove [migrants] must be exercisable notwithstanding the Human Rights Act, the European Convention on Human Rights, the Refugee Convention, and all other international law,” she said.

Braverman called for removals to happen within days of arrivals, and for the “administrative detention of illegal arrivals until they are removed”.

“If the prime minister leads that fight he has my total support,” she said, indicating that Sunak will face damaging in-fighting if he does not.

The first deportees were due to be sent to Rwanda in June last year but were pulled off a flight at the last minute after a judge at the European Court of Human Rights issued an injunction.

Since then, their cases — and the wider legality of the policy — have been stuck in the courts.


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