This is the Home Secretary appointed by Truss and Sunak. Let us park for one moment the fact that this woman was obliged to resign having been caught out sharing official documents on her private email and spent only a few days in the ‘sin bin’ before being reappointed to one of the highest offices of state. Let us park the fact that, as Attorney General ( a role for which she was shockingly under-qualified, picked more for complicity than competence), she boasted of her willingness to flout international law. Let us instead focus on the evidence that she in any way fulfils Sunak’s avowed commitment to integrity, professionalism and accountability in her current role as we watch her and her team ‘answer’ questions from the Select Committee for Home Affairs on:
- the number of judicial reviews on Manston
- when she knew that the prolonged detention of asylum seekers at Manston was illegal
- the Rwanda scheme – value for money and efficacy given yet further expenditure
- the existence or otherwise of safe routes for asylum seekers.
This is the first opportunity that the Select Committee for Home Affairs has had for NINE MONTHS to question a Home Secretary; a period in which all manner of material legislation has been rammed through and the ugly (and probably illegal) Rwandan scheme introduced – and all without the very valuable scrutiny and challenge from this important committee of either former incumbent, Patel, or Braverman.
That is bad enough in itself and you or I would be anxious to make amends for this dereliction of duty, but it gets worse. Any reasonable person would think that Braverman should have had the wit and professionalism to work out what the hot areas for questions might be and to prepare accordingly. She is, allegedly, a hot-shot lawyer and lawyers do not, as a rule, swan into court and expect to wing it having failed to anticipate any of the possible lines of inquiry from their opposition.
Braverman began the session as she meant to go on – badly:
Basic stuff. Fail. And no shame expressed at the failure.
Next up, when did Braverman know that the the Home Office were breaking the law at Manston?
And what about the infamous Rwanda scheme? Despite the cost of living crisis and the parlous state of the public purse, the Home Office had already blown £120m on this cruel, futile bit of dog-whistling. Now we learn another £20m has gone to fund ‘set-up’ costs. Does Braverman know whether it’s value for money? Does her sidekick, Permanent Secretary Matthew Rycroft? Nah. He hasn’t got a scoobie.
Funny that you need to spend £140m on set-up costs for a deterrent! Wonder who is actually getting the money…
Finally, and most shockingly, here is a question from her fellow Conservative, Tim Loughton, MP for East Worthing and Shoreham:
Either she actually IS completely ignorant of her government’s immigration policy and procedures or she finally twigs that she is trapped in a hideous hole of her own making with her endless vilification and would-be criminalisation of those driven onto small boats exposed for all to see.
Because the facts are these:
The government closed the ‘Dubs scheme’ for unaccompanied refugee children elsewhere in Europe after resettling just 480 children.
The government closed the UK’s refugee resettlement schemes in March 2020. In July 2019, it announced a new ‘global resettlement scheme’ to replace these schemes from 2020, but it has not yet opened the new scheme or committed any funding for refugee resettlement beyond 2021-22.
The government has chosen to withdraw the UK from the Dublin System, which enables people applying for asylum in the EU to be reunited with their family members in another member state.
Unlike every EU country except Denmark, the UK does not allow unaccompanied child refugees to sponsor family members to join them (Baroness Hamwee’s amendment to address this was unsuccessful).
In December 2021, the Government changed the rules governing asylum applications so the Home Office can declare claims inadmissible if the applicant has passed through or has a connection to a ‘safe third country’ – even if that country refuses to readmit them; this is a breach of the UK’s commitments under the 1951 UN Refugee Convention.
The Nationality and Borders Bill includes various measures to penalise a refugee entitled to asylum in the UK for having reached here by the only means that were available – a journey for which permission was not given in advance. Those penalties include delaying or denying the reunion of relatives through family visas – so removing a safe route for the refugee’s partner or child to reach the UK.
The Home Office is adopting rights’ infringing policies, pursuing brutal and inhumane strategies to please its xenophobic fans, flouting international law and basic standards of human decency. It is led by a women driven by an ugly ideology and no integrity, professionalism and accountability at all; the woman whose dearest wish – her dream no less – is to see vulnerable people packed off on a plane to Rwanda.
How long will we put up with this? Is this really who we are?