UK Home Secretary Braverman pushes forward policy of mass deportations of asylum seekers

UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman visited Rwanda over the weekend in a propaganda exercise boosting her Illegal Migration Bill.

The Bill, which will deny the right to asylum to virtually anyone deemed to have entered Britain “illegally”, passed its second reading in Parliament on March 20 and is expected to be on the statute books by summer/autumn, depending on the success of legal challenges. It targets desperate migrants who reach the UK on small boats via the hazardous English Channel.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman shaking hands with with Rwandan Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, Dr. Vincent Biruta after signing an expansion of the Migration and Economic Development Partnership. [Photo by UK Home Office/Flickr / CC BY 2.0]

As Braverman introduced the Bill last week, she invoked the fascistic imagery of hordes of migrants laying siege to the UK, “There are 100 million people around the world who could qualify for protection under our current laws. Let’s be clear. They are coming here.” Prime Minister Rishi Sunak welcomed the policy from a Downing Street podium with a sign reading, “Stop the Boats”.

A duty will be placed on ministers to remove refugees “as soon as reasonably practicable” to a third country. Introducing the Bill, Braverman said that one of the countries where they would be deported is Rwanda. Britain has already handed its government more than £140 million since last April under the Migration and Economic Development Partnership, to fund the building of camps for deportees.

Braverman and her sadistic, sociopathic policy are proof of the social scum which has risen to the top of bourgeois politics.

Last October, she told the Conservative Party conference it was her “dream” and “obsession” to see asylum seekers put on deportation flights to Rwanda. She described Channel crossings by migrants fleeing war, poverty and persecution in their homelands—the result of imperialist wars and intrigues backed by Britain over decades—as “an invasion of our southern coast”.

In Rwanda, Braverman visited the hovels being built by the Rwandan regime, at a cost as low as £14,000 each, proclaiming these hellholes ideal lifetime accommodation for migrants deported from Britain. Shown around a block being built in a war-torn, hunger-stricken country, she told her guide, “I really like your interior designer. I need some advice for myself.”

Pointing at an architect’s plan she said of migrants being deported with nothing but the clothes they stood up in, “And if people have a car, they can park their car here?”

While she was there, the Rwanda deportation policy was widened to affect almost any migrant entering Britain, with the Home Office announcing a “memorandum of understanding, expanding the partnership further to all categories of people who pass through safe countries and make illegal and dangerous journeys to the UK.”

Braverman’s predecessor, Priti Patel, who began the Rwanda deportation policy, went as far as to organise flights, but last-minute legal challenges stopped the plane on the runway.

While Britain’s High Court ruled in December that asylum deportations to Rwanda were legal, they are being prevented by a previous ruling of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) via Rule 39 of its Rules of Court. Despite its exit from the European Union, the UK is still a party to the European Convention on Human Rights. Under Rule 39, the Court may intervene and “indicate interim measures to any State” in cases “when the applicants [in this case the asylum seekers being deported] would otherwise face a real risk of irreversible harm.”

The Sunak government is intent on ploughing ahead with a plan of mass deportations that a modern-day Hitler would warm to, declaring its intention to resume deportation flights to Rwanda before the summer. It will do this with the backing of a faithful right-wing media, who fill their daily pages and broadcast time with stories on Britain’s “invasion” by foreigners. They made sure to note that as Braverman arrived in Rwanda, 209 people were confirmed to have made the journey across the Channel the same day.

Nothing was left to chance by the government in ensuring the right-wing narrative prevailed, as it seeks to pass legislation that Braverman herself admitted in a letter to MPs has “more than a 50% chance” of being found unlawful.

Only the most enthusiastic supporters of the Rwanda deportation plan were invited to accompany Braverman on her trip to the country, including Sun political correspondent Jack Elsom, Express senior political correspondent Steph Spyro, Times home affairs editor Matt Dathan, Telegraph home affairs editor Charles Hymas, Daily Mail home affairs editor David Barrett and GB News home and security editor Mark White.

Any media which does not fully endorse the policy was banned. The Guardian, Independent, Daily Mirror and i newspapers were denied access, as was, extraordinarily, the British Broadcasting Corporation—the state broadcaster. The BBC was only able to report on the trip and attend on the ground after it requested and was given accreditation for a crew from the regional BBC bureau.

The government is heavily managing all reporting of its draconian plan because it is aware that the population, despite being drenched in a torrent of anti-immigration filth from the Daily Mail, Express et al., is opposed to the policy and supports the democratic rights of asylum seekers and refugees.

Migrants disembark from a British Border Force patrol boat after being picked up from a dingy in the English Channel in Dover harbour, England, Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021. [AP Photo/Alastair Grant]

Lashing out against scrutiny is part of a pattern. Braverman’s trip took place one week after senior Tory party supporters on the board of the BBC removed sports presenter Gary Lineker from the air after he criticised the Illegal Migration Bill and compared Braverman’s language to that of the Nazis in early 1930s Germany. He was restored to his position in a matter of days after receiving widespread public support.

The Tories are so widely despised and politically weak that they cannot bear the criticisms of a sports presenter, yet are only months away from being able to deport migrants more than 4,000 miles away to Rwanda and other remote countries. This can only be explained by the fact that they face no opposition from the Labour Party, which acts as a straitjacket on popular sentiment.

Labour’s only gripe with the Illegal Migration Bill is that it is “the latest in a long line of unworkable gimmicks,” in the words of Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting, who propose that “the hundreds of millions of pounds… wasted on the Rwanda scheme” be put “into the National Crime Agency so that we can start rounding up and arresting the criminal gangs that are trafficking people.”

As Braverman introduced the Bill to Parliament, Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper boasted of how the removal of asylum seekers was so much more effectively carried out by the last Labour government. Tory policies to crack down on migration “did not work” and “didn’t deter anyone,” while Labour had “put forward plans for a cross-border police unit, for fast-tracked decisions and returns, to clear the backlog and end hotel use,” she said.

The fight against attacks on migrants and the right to asylum enshrined in international law cannot be left to such venal forces, or to the courts—whatever temporary rulings are applied.

On Sunday, Britain’s media was filled with celebrations after Braverman confirmed “constructive” discussions with the European Court of Human Rights aimed at possible reforms to the Rule 39 injunction that “would remove a key barrier to getting flights off the ground.” Sky News reported, “As part of the talks with the Strasbourg court, the government has requested a higher legal threshold for any Rule 39 injunction that may be imposed on future deportation flights.”