British culture will disappear if immigration remains uncontrolled, Suella Braverman has warned.
Speaking during a visit to the US, the Home Secretary said in a speech that migration to the UK and Europe in the past 25 years had been “too much, too quick” with too little thought given to integration and social cohesion rather than the “failed dogma of multiculturalism”.
Citing the 108,000 migrants who had illegally crossed the Channel since 2018 and the 2.8 million who had entered the US this year, Mrs Braverman said uncontrolled immigration made it “harder for society to adapt and accommodate new cultures and customs” as she set out her proposals for world nations to tackle the problem.
“If cultural change is too rapid and too big, then what was already there is diluted. Eventually it will disappear,” she told an invited audience at the American Enterprise Institute, a Right-of-centre think tank in Washington DC.
‘Absurd and unsustainable’ system
Echoing comments trailed earlier this week, Mrs Braverman said the migration crisis showed the need to reform the “outdated” United Nations Refugee Convention of 1951, which had created an “absurd and unsustainable” system with “huge incentives for illegal migration”.
She urged the international community to follow the UK in refusing asylum to migrants unless they arrived in a country through a recognised safe and legal route, tightening the definition of who could claim to be a refugee and adopting schemes like the Government’s Rwanda deportation policy.
She blamed the fear of “being branded a racist or illiberal” for preventing reform of the Convention.
“Any attempt to reform the Refugee Convention will see you smeared as anti-refugee. Similar epithets are hurled at anyone who suggests reform of the European Convention on Human Rights or its court in Strasbourg,” she said.
On Tuesday night, the UN’s High Commission for Refugees hit back, saying: “The need is not for reform, or more restrictive interpretation, but for stronger and more consistent application of the Convention and its underlying principle of responsibility-sharing.”
Mrs Braverman opened her speech, which was part of a three-day visit to meet with her US counterparts to discuss strategies to tackle illegal migration and organised immigration crime, by warning that “uncontrolled and illegal migration” posed an “existential challenge” to political and cultural institutions in the West.
“Uncontrolled immigration, inadequate integration and a misguided dogma of multiculturalism have proven a toxic combination for Europe over the last few decades,” she said.
She said multiculturalism had failed because it allowed migrants to live parallel lives and, in extreme cases, threaten its security, and warned that pressures on public services and housing would “compound over time” unless countries could prevent or rapidly remove illegal migrants.
New homes ‘cannot be magicked up’
She claimed immigration was behind 45 per cent of demand for new housing in England, while more than one in five births were to foreign-born mothers. As a result, English secondary schools would need to find an extra 213,000 places by 2026 compared to 2020, she said.
“Accommodation cannot be magicked up out of thin air. Nor can new schools, improved roads, extra police officers, additional healthcare, or any of the other public services upon which people rely,” she said.
She said illegal migration also posed a threat to public safety and national security. “UK police chiefs have warned me of heightened levels of criminality connected to some small boat arrivals, particularly in relation to drug crime, exploitation and prostitution,” she said.
Recalling how Vladimir Putin “weaponised” migration in 2021, she said: “Illegal migration is increasingly a tool exploited by hostile states and those acting on their behalf.”
As a child of immigrants from Mauritius and Kenya, Mrs Braverman said it was “no betrayal” of her parents’ story to say immigration must be controlled.
She defended those who spoke out. “Without public consent, immigration is illegitimate. Dismissing as idiots or bigots those members of the public who express legitimate concerns, is not merely unfair, it is dangerous,” she said.
The Refugee Council said Mrs Braverman’s claims that there had been a lowering of the threshold for asylum claims under the Convention was “not credible”.
Jon Featonby, the council’s chief policy analyst, said: “A high bar for fear of persecution must be met for people to be granted protection, and this has not changed.”
04:26 PM BST
That is all for today...
Thank you for joining me for today’s politics live blog.
I will be back tomorrow morning.
04:07 PM BST
World is bound by ‘outdated legal models’ on migration, says Braverman
Concluding her speech in Washington DC, Suella Braverman said international cooperation was needed to tackle the issue of illegal migration.
But she said “nations cannot simply sit on their hands while a reform process plays out”.
She said: “While we may have different views as to the solutions, I hope we can at least agree on one thing: That we are living in a new world bound by outdated legal models.”
03:59 PM BST
'Any attempt to reform the refugee convention will see you smeared as anti-refugee'
Seeking reform of refugee rules results in politicians being “smeared” as being “anti-refugee”, Suella Braverman said.
The Home Secretary said: “Any attempt to reform the refugee convention will see you smeared as anti-refugee.
“Similar epithets are hurled at anyone who suggests reform of the ECHR or its court in Strasbourg. I reject the notion that a country cannot be expected to respect human rights if it is not signed up to an international human rights organisation.”
03:57 PM BST
Braverman: Status quo on refugee rules ‘unsustainable’
Suella Braverman said politicians today must ask whether the United Nations Refugee Convention, agreed in 1951, is “fit for our modern age or in need of reform”.
The Home Secretary said the way in which the convention had been interpreted in the courts had changed over time.
“The practical consequence of which has been to expand the number of those who may qualify for asylum, and to lower the threshold for doing so,” she said.
She added: “The status quo, where people are able to travel through multiple safe countries, and even reside in safe countries for years, while they pick and choose their preferred destination to claim asylum, is absurd and unsustainable.”
03:50 PM BST
‘Dangerous’ to dismiss ‘legitimate concerns’ about immigration
It is “dangerous” to dismiss “legitimate concerns” about immigration levels, Suella Braverman has warned.
The Home Secretary said: “Who we allow to come into our country and become one of us is a fundamental issue. Without public consent, immigration is illegitimate.
“Dismissing as idiots or bigots those members of the public who express legitimate concerns, is not merely unfair, it is dangerous. Europe is at a critical juncture. The EU must find a way to meet the challenge of illegal migration, and Ursula von der Leyen’s recent visit to Lampedusa demonstrates the Commission’s recognition of the severity of the situation.
“Because failure to do so will I fear, undermine the legitimacy of democratic institutions and create the conditions for more extreme politics.”
03:44 PM BST
Immigration to Europe has been ‘too much’ and ‘too quick’, says Braverman
Suella Braverman said immigration to Europe over the last quarter of a century has been “too much” and “too quick”.
She said: “There is an optimal level of immigration. It is not zero. But there has been more migration to the UK and Europe in the last twenty five years than in all the time that went before.
“It has been too much, too quick, with too little thought given to integration and the impact on social cohesion. The fact that the optimal level is hard to define and will vary across time and for different countries doesn’t change that fundamental fact.
“Nor should it blind us from this simple truth: If cultural change is too rapid and too big, then what was already there is diluted. Eventually it will disappear.”
03:42 PM BST
Home Secretary: Multiculturalism has ‘failed’
Multiculturalism has “failed”, Suella Braverman said as she addressed a think tank in Washington DC.
The Home Secretary argued: “Multiculturalism makes no demands of the incomer to integrate. It has failed because it allowed people to come to our society and live parallel lives in it. They could be in the society but not of the society.
“And in extreme cases they could pursue lives aimed at undermining the stability and threatening the security of our society. We are living with the consequence of that failure today.”
03:37 PM BST
Illegal migration will ‘only worsen’ if action not taken now
Illegal migration is a “permanent and structural challenge” and unless action is taken “it will only worsen in the years to come”, the Home Secretary argued.
Addressing the American Enterprise Institute, Suella Braverman said: “Illegal migration is not merely an event-driven, or cyclical problem. It is a permanent and structural challenge for the developed nations in general, and the West in particular.
“Unless we act, it will only worsen in the years to come.”
03:34 PM BST
Suella Braverman: Illegal migration an ‘existential challenge’ to the West
Suella Braverman started her speech in Washington DC by telling the audience that uncontrolled and illegal migration pose an “existential challenge” to the West.
The Home Secretary said: “I’m here in America to talk about a critical and shared global challenge: Uncontrolled and illegal migration.
“It is an existential challenge for the political and cultural institutions of the West. Just as it is a basic rule of history that nations which cannot defend their borders will not long survive, it is a basic rule of politics that political systems which cannot control their borders will not maintain the consent of the people, and thus not long endure.”
03:32 PM BST
Suella Braverman set to deliver speech in US
Suella Braverman is now on stage at the American Enterprise Institute think tank in Washington DC.
The Home Secretary is just being introduced and should be starting her speech very shortly.
03:28 PM BST
Sir Ed Davey urges Lib Dems to 'smash' Blue Wall 'for good'
Concluding his speech in Bournemouth, Sir Ed Davey said: “We have taken chunks out of the Blue Wall, we have made it start to crumble, now let’s smash it for good.”
03:26 PM BST
Lib Dem leader vows to fight for proportional representation
Sir Ed Davey pledged to fight for the introduction of a proportional representation voting system for general elections.
Pledging political reform, the Lib Dem leader said that “at the heart of those reforms must be a fair electoral system”.
He said: “Proportional representation so everyone’s vote counts equally because we know that the antidote to cynicism is not defeatism, it is empowerment, putting real power in every voters hands, to elect MPs who can’t take them for granted.”
03:20 PM BST
'Voting Conservative is bad for your health'
Ballot papers at elections should come with a cigarette-style health warning to caution people against backing the Conservatives, Sir Ed Davey said as he attacked the Tories over their handling of the NHS.
Sir Ed joked that the warning message should read: “Voting Conservative is bad for your health.”
The Lib Dem leader told activists that it “falls to us to rescue the NHS”.
03:15 PM BST
Lib Dems to campaign to 'end unacceptable cancer delays'
Sir Ed Davey has called for a new legal right for cancer patients to start treatment within two months of an urgent referral.
The Lib Dem leader said cancer survival rates in the UK are still behind Germany, the US and Japan as he said more needed to be done to ensure cancer is treated as quickly as possible.
He said his party will campaign to “end unacceptable cancer delays and boost survival rates”.
03:02 PM BST
Lib Dems would deliver 'better' Brexit deal, says Sir Ed Davey
Sir Ed Davey said the Liberal Democrats would focus on “fixing our broken relationship with Europe”, prompting a sustained round of applause from activists in Bournemouth.
He accused the Tories of having “botched the deal with Europe and it has been a disaster for the UK”.
He said the Lib Dems would “get a better deal for Britain” from Brussels.
02:57 PM BST
Sir Ed Davey accuses Sunak of 'dismal failure of leadership' on net zero
Rishi Sunak’s decision to water down the Government’s net zero policies was “disgraceful”, the leader of the Liberal Democrats said.
Sir Ed Davey told the party’s conference in Bournemouth that Mr Sunak was guilty of a “dismal failure of leadership” on green issues and he believed the UK “can do so much better”.
“Britain led the world and we can lead it again,” he said.
02:53 PM BST
Tories in government like a 'bad TV soap', says Sir Ed Davey
Sir Ed Davey told the Lib Dem conference in Bournemouth that “in so many ways our country today just isn’t working the way it should”.
“I have never known our country so badly governed,” he said.
Sir Ed said there was “one fundamental cause” for the nation’s problems and that was the Conservative Party.
The Tories are more like a “bad TV soap than a functioning government”, he said, adding: “It is time to change the channel.”
02:47 PM BST
Lib Dem by-election wins 'nothing less than historic', says Davey
Sir Ed Davey said the Liberal Democrats’ performance in recent parliamentary by-elections and local elections had been “nothing less than historic”.
“Our campaigns, our victories, are changing the future of British politics and turning the tide against the Conservatives,” he said.
The Lib Dem leader said the next general election will not just be about the Red Wall, telling activists: “It is about the Blue Wall too.”
02:44 PM BST
Sir Ed Davey: 'It is time to get these Conservatives out of No10'
Sir Ed Davey, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, is now on stage in Bournemouth to deliver his closing speech at the party’s annual conference.
Sir Ed started his speech by attacking the Tory record on the NHS and the economy.
He told activists: “It is time to get these Conservatives out of No10.”
02:38 PM BST
Sir Ed Davey set to deliver speech at Lib Dem conference
Sir Ed Davey’s closing speech at Liberal Democrat conference is about to get underway in Bournemouth.
It will be a significant moment for the Lib Dem leader as he sets out the party’s stall for what could be the final time before the general election, which is widely expected to take place next year.
02:00 PM BST
What is happening this afternoon...
We have two significant political speeches in the next two hours.
First will be Sir Ed Davey who will deliver the closing address at Liberal Democrat conference in Birmingham starting at about 2.30pm.
Then Suella Braverman will address the American Enterprise Institute think tank in Washington DC from about 3.30pm.
I will do my best to guide you through the key developments.
01:47 PM BST
Over a million appointments cancelled due to NHS strikes
The true number of appointments cancelled by strikes may be twice as high as the official toll, NHS chiefs have revealed, as the figure passed one million.
NHS Confederation said that while a million appointments had been officially cancelled due to walkouts, “the true impact is much higher, perhaps as much as double what the figures show”.
You can read the full story here.
01:13 PM BST
Pictured: Jeremy Hunt holds talks with Qatari finance minister
12:52 PM BST
Sir Gavin Williamson calls for 'calamity' HS2 to be scrapped
Sir Gavin Williamson, the former Cabinet minister, has called for HS2 to be scrapped.
He said that he believed the “wheels have come off HS2” and the Government should “stop this calamity while we can”.
Writing on Substack, he said: “The budget has spiralled to more than £100 billion. Trains won’t even stop in central London. There will be no trains to Manchester until at least 2041. The reality of the ill-fated HS2 is – if you’ll excuse the pun – a complete trainwreck.”
Sir Gavin said that “the strongest argument against this omnishambles of epic proportions is the real and undeniable harms it will wreak on local communities”.
12:45 PM BST
HS2 route ‘should be repurposed for new power cables’ if railway axed
The route of HS2 should be repurposed to lay new power cables if it is scrapped, Lord Bamford, the chairman of JCB, has said.
The major Tory party donor said the line of the much-maligned high-speed railway could be used for cabling infrastructure to support an expected growing demand for electricity.
You can read the full story here.
12:32 PM BST
Sunak ‘unconservative’ for watering down net zero rules
Rishi Sunak is unconservative for rowing back on Britain’s net zero pledges, says Lord Deben, formerly one of the Government’s most senior climate advisers.
Three months after stepping down as chair of the Climate Change Committee (CCC), the Tory grandee has hit out at the Prime Minister for scaling back key environmental policies.
You can read the full story here.
11:48 AM BST
Labour poll lead over Tories shrinks for second week in a row
Labour’s poll lead over the Tories has shrunk for the second week in a row.
A new Redfield & Wilton Strategies survey conducted on September 24 gave Labour a lead of 15 points, down by three points on the previous week.
The Labour lead was 18 points in a poll conducted on September 17 which was two points lower than the 20 point lead recorded in a poll on September 10.
The latest survey put Labour on 43 per cent of the overall vote, the Tories on 28 per cent, the Liberal Democrats on 13 per cent, Reform UK on eight per cent and the Green Party on five per cent.
Labour leads by 15% nationally.
Westminster VI (24 September):
Labour 43% (-1)
Conservative 28% (+2)
Liberal Democrat 13% (-1)
Reform UK 8% (+2)
Green 5% (-1)
Scottish National Party 2% (-1)
Other 1% (–)
Changes +/- 17 Septemberhttps://t.co/6s3cNhAq8s pic.twitter.com/F6oLaieBaa
— Redfield & Wilton Strategies (@RedfieldWilton) September 25, 2023
11:15 AM BST
Rishi Sunak welcomes State Visit of South Korean President in November
— Rishi Sunak (@RishiSunak) September 26, 2023
10:45 AM BST
Pictured: Sir Ed Davey on the march in Bournemouth ahead of conference speech
10:26 AM BST
International Rescue Committee criticises Braverman
The International Rescue Committee has criticised Suella Braverman for “taking aim” at the UN Refugee Convention as it urged the Government to focus on processing asylum claims in the UK.
Laura Kyrke-Smith, the IRC’s UK executive director, said: “The Refugee Convention has withstood the test of time and remains the right international legal framework for the UK’s refugee and asylum policy. It does not mandate people to seek asylum in the first safe country that they arrive in.
“The Government should focus its efforts on processing asylum claims quickly and fairly, and establishing safe alternative routes to claim asylum. There are pragmatic ways to stop the small boats crossing the Channel, without taking aim at the Refugee Convention.
“Last year, half of the people arriving on small boats were from just five crisis-affected countries: Afghanistan, Syria, Sudan, Eritrea and Iran. Three quarters were found by this Government to be in genuine need of protection. And the British public understand this: IRC/ YouGov polling shows that two-thirds of British adults believe that the right to seek asylum should be upheld.”
10:04 AM BST
Lord Hague: HS2 is a 'national disgrace' and should have been cancelled years ago
Lord Hague said the running of the HS2 project had been a “national disgrace” and he believed it “should have been cancelled a few years ago”.
The former Tory leader, a prominent supporter of Rishi Sunak, told Times Radio: “It should have been cancelled a few years ago when it was clear that the whole thing was out of control, that the costs were out of control, they wouldn’t be able to ever go to Leeds.
“So I would have cancelled it then. Now you’ve got this classic problem if you’re halfway through something and it’s been terribly badly managed, really a national disgrace as a project, do you say, well okay that’s it, I’m stopping this, or do you say, well actually now we’re halfway through, we have to at least complete and make sense of the parts that we can still do.
“That’s just a genuine dilemma. And I hope that whatever is decided, Rishi Sunak will say we are managing these things totally differently in the future in this country because we’re not good at managing infrastructure.”
— Times Radio (@TimesRadio) September 26, 2023
09:57 AM BST
Sir Ed Davey to deliver closing speech at Lib Dem conference
Sir Ed Davey will deliver the closing speech at the Liberal Democrats’ annual conference in Bournemouth this afternoon.
We are expecting the speech to get underway at about 2.30pm.
The Lib Dem leader is expected to say that “voting Conservative is bad for your health” in what is likely to be the party’s last conference before the general election.
Sir Ed is expected to focus much of the speech on the NHS and he will also pledge to “fix our economy with care”.
09:51 AM BST
Esther McVey: HS2 ‘sucking the life’ out of local transport projects
Esther McVey said HS2 is “sucking the money and the life” out of other transport projects.
The former Cabinet minister told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: “What the Prime Minister is saying, that money… would go into the local infrastructure across the north.
“That is connecting the great cities of the north from Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, connecting all of those up as well as giving better local transport because HS2 is sucking the money and the life out of our local transport.”
09:49 AM BST
Ex-Cabinet minister: HS2 does not need to go to Manchester
Former Cabinet minister Esther McVey welcomed the prospect of the HS2 line between Birmingham and Manchester being scrapped as she said the railway line is not needed and the money would be better spent on other projects.
Asked if HS2 needed to go to Manchester, the Tory MP for Tatton in Cheshire, told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: “Oh, we certainly don’t and thank goodness that the Prime Minister is looking at HS2’s spiralling costs because what might have seemed feasible at £37billion really is not at £120billion going northwards.
“Things have significantly changed since lockdown. People will now sooner jump on a Zoom to save time and money. So it’s the right thing to do and yes, stop it as soon as possible.”
09:27 AM BST
Braverman speech attempt to 'distract' from 'Tory asylum chaos', Labour claims
Yvette Cooper claimed Suella Braverman was trying to “distract from her total failure to tackle Tory asylum chaos at home” by delivering a speech in Washington DC on the UN Refugee Convention this afternoon.
The shadow home secretary also accused Ms Braverman of making it “harder to get countries to work with” the UK on addressing asylum and migration issues.
She tweeted: “International conventions aren’t responsible for appalling Tory failures to go after the criminal smuggling gangs, to take asylum decisions or clear backlog. Those failures are the responsibility of Rishi Sunak and Suella Braverman.
“We need more international cooperation to stop smuggler & trafficking gangs, establish return agreements & make sure countries work together to ensure those fleeing persecution & conflict get sanctuary. But Braverman rhetoric makes it harder to get countries to work with us.”
Home Secretary ramps up rhetoric & chases headlines abroad to try & distract from her total failure to tackle Tory asylum chaos at home
⬆️Dangerous boat crossings up
📈Asylum backlog record high
⬇️Returns of failed asylum cases down 70%
💷 Hotels cost £8m a day
— Yvette Cooper (@YvetteCooperMP) September 26, 2023
09:10 AM BST
Sunak and Hunt looking at how HS2 cost 'can be controlled'
Chris Philp said Rishi Sunak and Jeremy Hunt are looking at how the cost of HS2 can be “controlled”.
But the policing minister insisted no decisions had been taken yet about the future of the high speed railway line amid speculation the Birmingham to Manchester leg could be axed.
Asked how alarmed he was by the rising cost of the project, Mr Philp told Sky News: “Well, it has gone up a lot. It has roughly tripled, I think, since it was first conceived.
“So no decisions have been taken about the remaining stages of HS2 but I do know the Chancellor and Prime Minister are looking at how the cost can be controlled and as taxpayers, your viewers and us, would want that to happen.
“But no decisions have been taken.”
08:51 AM BST
Rishi Sunak 'alarmed by runaway cost of HS2'
Rishi Sunak is reportedly alarmed by the runaway cost of HS2 amid growing speculation that the Prime Minister will scrap the Birmingham to Manchester section of the railway.
Mr Sunak failed to commit to the northern leg going ahead yesterday and The Times reported overnight that the PM has told allies he is not prepared to watch the cost continue to rise.
08:41 AM BST
UN's refugee definition has been 'stretched', says Chris Philp
Chris Philp, the policing minister, argued the UN’s definition of a refugee had been “stretched” far beyond what was originally intended when it was first put in place in 1951.
He told Times Radio: “The UN Refugee Convention, I think in its very first article… talks about persecution for a variety of reasons like religious belief, political belief and so on.
“That was designed by those who wrote the convention in I think 1951. It was designed to be quite a high threshold and they wrote it with the horrors of the Second World War in mind.
“But over the years that definition has been stretched somewhat and asylum claims are often made by people who are in essence economic migrants.”
08:24 AM BST
'Very large scale illegal immigration movements' must be addressed - minister
The world is currently seeing “very large scale illegal immigration movements” which must be addressed, the policing minister said this morning.
Chris Philp suggested Suella Braverman’s speech in Washington DC this afternoon on global refugee rules will “at least” initiate a debate on the issue.
He told Times Radio: “We have seen very large scales of illegal immigration around the world. In the US where she is speaking in this month alone I think they have had already 140,000 people just in the last three weeks cross their southern border.
📍 Washington 🇺🇸
The Home Secretary @SuellaBraverman was greeted by @KarenPierceUK as she arrived in the United States for a three day visit.
An important moment to drive forward shared interests and discuss key issues with our American allies. pic.twitter.com/ohURULS8uH
— Home Office (@ukhomeoffice) September 25, 2023
“We have seen I think getting on for a couple of hundred thousand people illegally enter Europe this year.
“So I think we do need to deal with these very large scale illegal immigration movements and addressing this issue or at least initiating a debate on this issue is one of the ways to do that.”
08:21 AM BST
Minister: UN Refugee Convention 'out of date'
The United Nations Refugee Convention is out of date, a Home Office minister said this morning ahead of a major speech on the subject by Suella Braverman.
Chris Philp, the policing minister, said the existing convention should be “looked at on an international basis” to establish if it is fit for purpose.
Asked if he agreed the convention was out of date, Mr Philp told Times Radio: “Yes, I think it does need to be looked at on an international basis because we have seen people using asylum claims who are essentially economic migrants and we have also seen people sort of shopping around between different countries to choose where to claim asylum and that is not how the UN Refugee Convention was originally designed.
“It is not designed for people to circulate in Europe for a number of years before deciding where to claim asylum and making dangerous and illegal journeys in doing so.
“We see that of course across the English Channel where people are leaving France which is an obviously safe country where you can quite easily claim asylum, no one needs to cross the English Channel on a rubber dinghy to escape danger, Europe being safe. Those are the kind of issues that she [Ms Braverman] is referring to.”