London: Suella Braverman, sacked as home secretary by British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, on Wednesday delivered a fresh blow to her former boss by warning that the Conservative Party under his leadership faces “electoral oblivion” unless he speeds up a crackdown on illegal immigration.
In a personal statement in the House of Commons and the first formal speech since her Cabinet sacking last month, the Goan-origin member of Parliament demanded Sunak introduce tough legislation to enforce the Rwanda strategy to deport illegal migrants to the east African country.
In what will be seen as a clear challenge to Sunak’s leadership by pitching to the extreme right of the governing Tories, the former minister said migrant numbers were “putting unsustainable pressure on public finances and public services, undermining community cohesion, and jeopardising national security and public safety”.
“It is now or never; the Conservative Party faces electoral oblivion in a matter of months if we introduce yet another bill destined to fail. Do we fight for sovereignty, or do we let our party die?,” questioned Braverman.
In an apparent reference to some of her controversial statements while home secretary, she admitted that she “may not have always found the right words in the past”.
“But I refuse to sit by and allow us to fail. The trust that millions of people placed in us cannot be discarded as an inconvenient detail. If we summon the political courage to do what is truly necessary, difficult though it may be, to fight for the British people, we will regain that trust. And if the Prime Minister leads that fight, he has my total support,” she said.
The crux of her statement was on the “crisis of mass, uncontrolled, illegal migration”.
Braverman, now a backbench Tory MP, claimed tens of thousands of “mostly young men many with values and social mores at odds with our own” were “pouring” into the UK, with many not “genuine refugees but economic migrants”.
Giving voice to some of the deep divisions within the Tory ranks, she declared it was time for the UK to exit the European convention that blocked the government’s illegal migration related actions.
“Previous attempts have failed because they failed to address the root cause of the problem expansive human rights laws, flowing from the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), replicated in Labour’s Human Rights Act, are being interpreted elastically by courts both domestic and foreign, to literally prevent our Rwanda plan from getting off the ground,” she said.
The former barrister claimed such laws also meant there were foreign terrorists, rapists and paedophiles “who should have been removed but are released back into our communities where they reoffend…because of their human rights”.
However, she admitted that while she believed in leaving the ECHR and replacing the Human Rights Act with a fresh British Bill of Rights, that was a “debate for another day” and insisted any new bill should “block off all routes of challenge” so flights to Rwanda can take off before the next election.
The so-called Rwanda plan, first tabled by former home secretary Priti Patel and then championed by Suella Braverman, is seen as a key element of the Rishi Sunak led Conservative government’s imperative to curb soaring immigration figures.
On Tuesday, Braverman’s successor James Cleverly signed a new treaty in the Rwandan capital of Kigali which he said addresses the UK Supreme Court’s concerns that previously blocked as “unlawful” the original scheme to fly out illegal migrants to the African nation while their asylum claims are processed.