Suella Braverman said the Conservative Party faces “electoral oblivion” if they fail to implement their Rwanda plan.
The former Home Secretary asked MPs in the House of Commons: “Where does ultimate authority in the UK sit? Is it with the British people and their elected representatives in Parliament? Or is it in the vague, shifting and unaccountable concept of ‘international law’.”
The former Home Secretary told MPs: “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 let our party die? I refuse to sit by and allow the trust that millions of people have put in us be discarded like an inconvenient detail.”
Below is Former Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s speech exactly as it was delivered:
Mr Speaker, I’m grateful for your permission to make this statement. Serving in Cabinet for just under 4 years has been a great honour. I’m thankful for the opportunity and grateful for the efforts of many civil servants with whom I worked.
We achieved a great deal in the last 12 months: landmark legislation in the Public Order Act and the National Security Act; 20,000 new police officers – more than England and Wales have ever had before; one of the largest ever pay rises for the police; greater powers to dismiss rogue officers; and a review of legal protections to strengthen support for our brave firearms officers.
But Mr Speaker, I want to talk about the crisis on which I spent more time in office working on than any other: mass, uncontrolled, illegal migration. We are all familiar with the problem. Tens of thousands of mostly young men – many with values and social mores at odds with our own – pouring into our country day after day, month after month, year after year.
Many come from safe countries. Many are not genuine refugees but economic migrants.
All pay a criminal gang thousands of pounds to break into Britain. And all of them depart from a safe country: France – who, let’s face it, should be doing so much more to stop them.
This is putting unsustainable pressure on public finances and public services, undermining community cohesion, and jeopardising national security and public safety. The British people understand all this,
Mr. Speaker. The question is, does their government? And will it now finally act to stop it? The Prime Minister rightly committed to doing whatever it takes to stop the boats He should be commended for dedicating more time and toil to this endeavour than any of his predecessors.
And unlike the leader of the opposition, who would rather bury his head in the sand, he has actually advanced a plan. We made some progress during my tenure as Home Secretary.
Overall crossing are down by 30%. The number of illegal Albanian arrivals is down by 90%. And we started closing down asylum hotels. But, Mr Speaker, ‘crossings are down’ is not the same as ‘stopping the boats’. As Home Secretary I consistently advocated for legislative measures that would have secured the delivery of our Rwanda partnership as soon as the Bill became law.
Last summer, following defeat in the Court of Appeal, I advised that we should scrap rather than continue passage of the Illegal Migration Bill, in favour of a more robust alternative that excluded international and human rights laws. When that was rejected, I argued that we needed to work up a credible Plan B in the event of a Supreme Court loss. Following defeat in the Supreme Court, the Prime Minister has agreed to introduce emergency legislation. I welcomed his decision.
It is now 3 weeks on and we are yet to see a Bill. We are running out of time. We need to the Bill now. But Mr Speaker, my deeper concern relates to the substance of what may be in that Bill. 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, 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.
And this problem relates to so much more than just illegal migration.
From my time as Home Secretary, I can say that the same human rights framework is producing insanities that the public would scarcely believe.
Foreign terrorists we can’t deport. Because of their human rights. Terrorists that we have to let back in. Because of their human rights.
Foreign rapists and paedophiles who should have been removed but are released back into our communities where they reoffend. Yep- because of their human rights.
Violent criminals pulled off deportation flights – with the help of Labour MPs I should add – free to wander our streets and commit further horrific crimes, including murder.
Protestors let off the hook for tearing down statues and gluing themselves to roads.
And our brave military veterans being harassed by courts some 40 years after their service. It is no secret that I support leaving the ECHR and replacing the Human Rights Act with a British Bill of Rights that protects the vulnerable and our national security, and finishes the job of Brexit by extricating us from a foreign court and restoring true parliamentary sovereignty.
But I accept that the Government won’t do that and that it’s a debate for another day. Crucially, when it comes to stopping the boats now, leaving the ECHR is not the only way to cut the Gordian Knot. Emergency Legislation would enable this if it meets the following tests. Firstly, the Bill must address the Supreme Court’s concerns about the safety of Rwanda.
Second, the Bill must enable flights before the next election by blocking off all routes of challenge. The powers to detain and remove must be exercisable notwithstanding the Human Rights Act, the European Convention on Human Rights, the Refugee Convention, and all other international law.
Third, the Bill must remedy deficiencies in the IMA to ensure that removals can take place within days of people arriving illegally, rather than allowing individual challenges which could drag on for months. Fourth, the Bill must enable the administrative detention of illegal arrivals until they are removed.
And, just as we rapidly built Nightingale hospitals to deal with Covid, so too we must build nightingale style detention facilities to deliver the necessary capacity. Greece and Turkey have done similarly. The only way to do this, as I advocated for in Government, is with support from the MoD. And fifth, Parliament should be prepared to sit over Christmas to get this Bill passed. All of this comes down to a simple question: who governs Britain?
Where does ultimate authority in the UK sit? Is it with the British people and their elected representatives in Parliament? Or is it in the vague, shifting and unaccountable concept of ‘international law’.
On Monday, the Prime Minister announced measures that start to better reflect public frustration on legal migration. He can now follow that up with a Bill that reflects public fury on illegal migration and that actually delivers on his pledge to stop the boats. 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 let our party die? I refuse to sit by and allow the trust that millions of people have put in us be discarded like an inconvenient detail. If we summon the political courage to do what is truly necessary, and to fight for the interests of the British people, then I am confident that we will regain their support.
And, if the Prime Minister leads that fight, he will have my total support.