Migration via lorries surges by 30 pc as think tank calls for border overhaul

Braverman accused of ‘grandstanding abroad’ as small boats crossings increase at home

The home secretary Suella Braverman will today give a speech to a centre-right think in the United States in which she will call for reform of the United Nations Refugee Convention. 

In a speech to the American Enterprise Institute, she will question whether the Convention is “fit for our modern age” and suggest that the threshold for how refugee is today defined has been lowered to “simply being gay, or a woman”.

Ahead of her speech, shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper has accused her opposite number of “grandstanding” on migration. 

Cooper said this morning that the home secretary was “resorting to grandstanding abroad and looking for anyone else to blame” on migration.

She said: “On her watch, dangerous boat crossings are up, the backlog of undecided cases is at a record high, returns are down by 70% and the taxpayer is now spending an astronomical £8m a day on hotels – all because the Conservatives have time and again offered cheap gimmicks instead of getting a proper grip.

“And instead of enhancing international cooperation to go after the criminal gangs and build long-term solutions, this government has made it harder to get other countries to work with us by undermining international agreements that they still want other countries to abide by and offering no solutions.

“Most people in Britain want to see strong border security and a properly managed asylum and resettlement system so that the UK does its bit to help vulnerable refugees who have fled persecution and conflict – like the Afghan interpreters who helped our armed forces.

“Under the Tories we have the worst of all worlds – a broken asylum system that is neither firm nor fair.”

Also this morning, Labour Party chair Anneliese Dodds told Sky News: “We’ve obviously seen sadly real chaos in the asylum system, unfortunately we’ve seen a 70% drop in the rate of returns, we’ve seen only 1% of those people who came over in boats last year actually having their cases processed. 

“We’ve seen the rate of convictions of people smugglers going down.

“Labour’s got a clear plan to deal with that… that involves for example international agreements on returns.”

The comments came after Home Office minister Chris Philp argued that the definition of refugee has “expanded” since the 1951 Refugee Convention, which Suella Braverman is today calling for reform of. 

Philp told Sky News: “The Refugee Convention was originally written in 1951, and it defined a refugee as someone with a well-founded fear of persecution for a particular reason.

“For example political views, religious views and so on.

“That was written with the horrors of the Second World War in mind, and of course people who fear for their lives should be protected.

“Over the years the definition, sometimes interpreted by the countries around the world, has sort of expanded somewhat and we’ve seen people who are essentially economic migrants, seeking to use asylum claims.”