The home secretary’s policies on illegal migration are “completely wrong”, former prime minister Gordon Brown has claimed.
The former Labour PM criticised Suella Braverman’s remarks made in Washington DC after she said the uncontrolled movement of people posed an “existential challenge” to the West.
In her trip to the United States, Braverman questioned whether the United Nations Refugee Convention, created in 1951 and which forms the basis of the global asylum system, is still “fit for our modern age”.
She also said that there are “vast swathes of the world where it is extremely difficult to be gay, or to be a woman”.
Asked if the home secretary was right to open up a discussion about illegal migration around the world, Gordon Brown told Sky News: “Yeah but her policy is completely wrong. Look, if you go to Africa and I’ve visited most of the African countries over my time, African population is 1.2 billion at the moment.
“It will be 2.5 billion, twice as much, in 30 years’ time. Africa will be 25 per cent of the world’s population.
“Now, are you going to say to people in Africa that your only hope of getting a decent standard of living is migrating to the rest of the rest of the world, particularly to Europe? Or are you going to say we will help you in Africa and enable you to produce jobs, to produce products that can be sold, to get your agriculture sorted out? Africa is still a net importer of food.
“So you’ve got to have a policy to help those people who, if they think they’re going to be better off poor in a rich country, then rich in a poor country, then the pressures for migration will grow. But if we are able to support Africa in its economic development…”
Asked if he was suggesting the focus should be on international aid, Brown added: “It is partly aid, but it’s partly helping the economic development of these countries.”
In her speech earlier this week, the home secretary said that when the Refugee Convention was signed it gave protection to two million people — but it now extends to 780 million people.
She called on politicians to ask whether it is “fit for our modern age or in need of reform”.
She added that “most members of the public would recognise those fleeing a real risk of death, torture, oppression or violence, as being in need of protection”.
But in practice, she continued, case law has moved from protection from “persecution” to protection from “discrimination”.
She was widely criticised for the speech. The CEO of ActionAid UK, a charity that works against poverty worldwide, Halima Begum responded to the speech in a statement: “We know from our work across the world that for many women and girls, seeking asylum is the only lifeline left when fleeing persecution.
“Denying this fundamental right is not just a policy choice; it’s a direct affront to gender equality and human rights”.
Lord Alf Dubs, who fled the Holocaust on a Kindertransport to the UK, also condemned the speech, tweeting: “In many countries being gay is an imprisonable offence. For some, it means the death penalty.
“She’s repeating the shameful policy that people should not be treated as refugees if they arrive here by boat.
“But she’s closed virtually all other means of arrival.”
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