Govt has ‘failed to control UK’s borders’, admits Braverman

Thursday, Nov 24, 2022

LONDON: The Home Secretary admitted the Government has failed to control the UK’s borders as she blamed migrants crossing the Channel for overcrowding at the Manston processing centre.

Suella Braverman was repeatedly questioned over where the fault lies for the problems at the Kent facility when she faced the Commons Home Affairs Committee for the first time since her appointment.

The former military airfield near Ramsgate stood empty on Tuesday after everyone held there was moved into hotels but it has been dogged by controversy over the last few weeks, with ministers coming under fire over the conditions.

At its peak earlier this month, 4,000 were being held there – more than double its 1,600 capacity – a move branded a “breach of humane conditions”.

The Home Office has now been threatened with five legal actions over the site. Speaking to MPs on Wednesday, Ms Braverman said: “I’m not going to point the finger of blame at any one person. It’s not as simple as that.”

Asked again, she said: “Listen, I don’t think it’s helpful to point the finger of fault at anyone.”

Pressed further, she countered: “I tell you who’s at fault. It’s very clear who’s at fault. It’s the people who are breaking our rules, coming here illegally, exploiting vulnerable people and trying to reduce the generosity of the British people. That’s who’s at fault.”

Ms Braverman said “people smugglers” and “people who are choosing to take an illegal and dangerous journey to come here for economic reasons” are to blame.

Tory MP Lee Anderson told Ms Braverman more asylum seekers are being housed in hotels because “the Home Office has failed to control our borders and it’s not fit for purpose at the moment”.

She replied: “We have failed to control our borders, yes. That’s why the Prime Minister and myself are absolutely determined to fix this problem.”

Ms Braverman was given legal advice over a potential law breach by holding people at Manston when she was first appointed Home Secretary, MPs were also told.

During a testy exchange, she declined to directly say when she received the advice but said she arrived in the department in September “in full awareness” of the crisis. Ms Braverman said she “was aware from the beginning of my tenure there was a problem in Manston” but cited a “Government convention” on not discussing legal advice.

Home Office permanent secretary Matthew Rycroft said: “Home Office officials made the Home Secretary aware of the legal position as well as policy options from the beginning of her tenure.”