Suella Braverman brushes off EU warning over Channel small boat migrants plan

The UK is no longer bound by EU rules and is free to set its own migration policy, says Home Secretary

British Home Secretary Suella Braverman. EPA
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Suella Braverman has responded to a warning from the EU about her proposed immigration legislation, saying the government will not be deflected from measures against small boat crossings by concerns that they could breach human rights laws.

Ms Braverman was warned by EU home affairs commissioner Ylva Johansson on Tuesday that the Illegal Migration Bill breached international law.

Ms Johansson was briefed before she delivered her statement to the House of Commons setting out details of the legislation, she said.

But speaking on ITV, Ms Braverman made it clear that the UK was no longer bound by EU rules and was free to set its own migration policy.

“I explained to her in quite general terms the measures that we were proposing and she did express to me she thought that they would be unlawful,” she said.

“I invited her to read the detail and I am very happy to speak to her about the detail of the Bill.

“But we are no longer members of the European Union and so we are free to determine our own borders and migration policy.

“We believe our measures to be lawful, proper, necessary, compassionate and the fair thing to do, and that’s why we’re moving forward with them.”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is preparing to travel to Paris on Friday where he is expected to seek further help from President Emmanuel Macron in stopping the migrant boats leaving French beaches.

Ministers are braced for legal challenges to the plan to prevent anyone who arrives in the UK by unauthorised means from staying after it was denounced by the UN’s refugee agency as an “asylum ban”.

UK government unveils 'robust' bill to stop migrant Channel crossings - in pictures

Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick acknowledged on Wednesday that they would be using some “novel” legal arguments to defend the measures, but said he was confident they would prove effective.

“We are confident that we have got strong legal arguments," he told Channel 4. "They are in some cases new and novel legal arguments. I don’t think that should surprise anyone.

“These are new legal principles but they are likely to be upheld by the courts.”

Meanwhile, Ms Braverman has insisted that she had not approved an email sent out in her name accusing civil servants of blocking previous government attempts to tackle illegal migration.

The message, sent to thousands of Conservative Party members, blamed “an activist blob of left-wing lawyers, civil servants and the Labour Party” for the failure of previous efforts.

“I didn’t write that email, I didn’t see it, and it was an error, really, that it was sent out in my name,” Ms Braverman said.

She said she had been “incredibly impressed” with the dedication and hard work of officials in the Home Office who had been working on the latest measures.

Earlier, Conservative Campaign Headquarters, which distributed the email, admitted “the wording wasn’t seen by the Home Secretary” and said it is “reviewing” its internal clearance processes.

Updated: March 09, 2023, 6:27 AM