Suella Braverman has slapped down left-wing critics and doubled down on calls for international action to tackle the migrant crisis.
Speaking this afternoon, she dismissed attacks that accused her of lacking compassion, after her speech urging that the West will not be able to “sustain an asylum system if in effect, simply being gay, or a woman, and fearful of discrimination in your country of origin is sufficient to qualify for protection”.
The Home Secretary has said that we now live in a world very different to that when the Geneva Convention was drawn up in the mid-20th century, and as such countries should work together to change the treaty – including a narrower definition of the term “refugee”.
Her comments quickly came under fire from the left, who even went so far as to say Ms Braverman is dragging the UK “beneath the gutter” and describing the Tories as “BNP lites”.
She has now hit back, telling PA she is not acting without compassion.
She said: “What I would say is that we are facing unprecedented levels of illegal migration, not just in the UK but also in countries like the US and other Western or European nations.
“It’s right that we ask for greater collaboration at the international level amongst like-minded partners and, ultimately, the UK cannot sustain such levels of illegal migration or, indeed, legal migration.
“It’s indeed the prudent thing for political leaders to call this out and take steps to address it.”
Responding to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees denying any need for reform of the treaty or refugee definitions, MS Braverman said it is “legitimate to ask these questions”.
She said: “Ultimately, I think it’s legitimate to ask these questions, whether the definition of refugee in the international conventions is still fit for purpose, whether the definition of persecution has been stretched beyond a reasonable limit, and that’s in the face of these high numbers that we are now seeing.”
Reports at the time said the Labour Home Secretary wanted to “spark a Europe-wide debate about placing the Geneva convention on a ‘more rational basis’”.
Nine years later, Labour immigration minister Phil Woolas reignited the same debate, which now attracts such hatred when raised by Ms Braverman.
Mr Woolas said: “The Geneva Convention was intended to protect individual people from persecution.
‘A significant number of people who claim asylum are doing so for broadly economic reasons.
“So I think it is right we look at the framework, as indeed other European countries are doing.”