Suella Braverman demands Sunak pass emergency law to 'block off' small boat migration

Former home secretary continues attack on Prime Minister after asylum plans rejected by UK Supreme Court

Despite being sacked by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Monday, Suella Braverman's hardline stance on immigration has seen her become a rising star of the Tory right. AFP
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Former home secretary Suella Braverman has called on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to pass emergency legislation to “block off” human rights courts following the failure of the government's Rwanda asylum plan.

Ms Braverman has used the Supreme Court's decision to continue her attack on her former boss, whom she has accused of failing to do enough to stop small boats coming to the UK via the English Channel.

In a post on X, formerly Twitter, she said the new law must block legal challenges from the European Court of Human Rights, the Human Rights Act and others.

“Given the current state of the law, there is no reason to criticise the judges,” she said. “Instead, the government must introduce emergency legislation.

“This will give parliament a clear choice: control illegal migration or explain to the British people why they should accept ever greater numbers of illegal arrivals settling here.”

Ms Braverman is rallying support for a Conservative revolt against the British government's handling of its migration policy.

In a letter following her sacking, Ms Braverman, she made clear Mr Sunak bore responsibility for the failed policy.

She accused the Prime Minister of “believing that you can will your way through this without upsetting polite opinion” and of failing to prepare a Plan B should the justices rule against the government”.

“I wrote to you on multiple occasions setting out what a credible Plan B would entail and making clear that unless you pursue these proposals, in the event of defeat, there is no hope of flights this side of an election. I received no reply from you,” she wrote on Tuesday.

What did Braverman say in her letter?

The former home secretary, who was sacked by the Prime Minister on Monday, issued a call to the party’s right for an “authentic conservative agenda” as she aimed a broadside at the Tory leader.

Mr Sunak sacked Ms Braverman over the phone on Monday morning, clearing the way for a reshuffle which saw former prime minister David Cameron return as Foreign Secretary.

Ms Braverman, who backs leaving the European Convention on Human Rights, said that given his opposition to quitting the convention, Mr Sunak should have been prepared to “block off” the risk of human rights challenges to curb migrant crossings.

“Your rejection of this path was not merely a betrayal of our agreement, but a betrayal of your promise to the nation that you would do ‘whatever it takes’ to stop the boats,” she said.

Braverman a champion of the party's right-wing

Ms Braverman, a former barrister, is seen by many as a champion of the Rwanda proposal, which sought to deport asylum seekers if they crossed the English Channel in small boats.

Ms Braverman's hardline stance on immigration has seen her become increasingly popular among the Tory right. Many have forecast that her stance could be a platform for a future leadership bid.

Shortly after her return to government in October 2022, Ms Braverman was criticised after telling an event at the Tory conference that it was her “dream” to deport people to Rwanda.

Ms Braverman told a conference fringe event she would “love to be here claiming victory, I would love to be having a front page of the Telegraph with a plane taking off to Rwanda, that’s my dream, that’s my obsession”.

The former attorney general also courted controversy by describing the arrival of asylum seekers on England's south coast as an “invasion”.

Ms Braverman previously admitted that the UK government has “failed to control our borders” and backed schemes that put migrants on barges.

In March, she claimed that the asylum system was overwhelmed, as she unveiled the Illegal Migration Bill, claiming about £7 million was being spent every day on housing migrants in hotels across Britain.

“This bill will mean that if you come here illegally, you will not be able to stay. You will be detained and removed to your home country if safe, or a safe third country, like Rwanda”, she said about the legislation.

“Enough is enough. We must stop the boats”, she said.

But after the UK Court of Appeal found Rwanda was not a “safe third country” in September, Ms Braverman claimed the system was “rigged against the British people”.

She then doubled down on her claims by saying that “phoney humanitarianism” was holding back plans to tackle Channel crossings.

She has previously stopped short of saying the UK should leave the ECHR outright, rebuffing from hardliner Tory backbenchers.

“My personal views are clear. It’s a politicised court. It’s interventionist,” she told the BBC earlier this year amid concerns that the European court would block the UK's asylum reforms.

“It’s treading on the territory of national sovereignty. But no one’s talking about leaving the ECHR right now.”

On Friday, Ms Braverman said Rishi Sunak will likely fail on his pledge to “stop the boats”, regardless of whether the government won or lost the ruling.

The sacked home secretary wrote that if they lost the Prime Minister would have “wasted a year” on the Illegal Migration Act “only to arrive back at square one”.

Updated: November 15, 2023, 4:53 PM