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Lord Dubs Warns Suella Braverman’s “Invasion” Comments Could Encourage Attacks On Refugees

Suella Braverman (Alamy)

4 min read

Labour peer Lord Dubs, who fled Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia as a child during WW2, has warned that Suella Braverman’s “inflammatory” comments about an “invasion on our southern coast” could spark further violence against refugees.

The Home Secretary has received heavy criticism for the comments, which she made while addressing the crisis over asylum processing backlogs at the Manston centre in Kent in the Commons on Monday.

Her intervention came a day after a 66-year-old man firebombed a migrant centre in Dover, which police said was “likely to be driven by some form of hate-filled grievance” and is being investigated as a potential terror attack.

Lord Dubs said that language such as that used by Braverman could encourage further violence against refugees.

“To make that comment after the petrol bomb attack makes that comment even more outrageous, because she should know that by inflaming public opinion she will encourage more people to do that,” he told PoliticsHome.

“What we want is calm, and a sensible, balanced approach, not generating concerns and fears and anxiety by talking about invasion. Nobody wants the country to be invaded. 

“She should have learned the lesson of that petrol bomb attack rather than use language, which is going to cause these things to happen again.”

“We've had MPs murdered, we've had Joe Cox, Sir David Amess murdered. There's a lack of calmness in the approach to these things.”

He added that he was “quite shocked” by the home secretary’s words, and that such language “poisons the atmosphere”.

The Home Secretary made the comments on Monday while addressing allegations in the Commons regarding overcrowding at a processing site for refugees and asylum seekers in Manston, Kent.

Responding to criticism of her handling of the situation, she said: “The British people deserve to know which party is serious about stopping the invasion on our southern coast and which party is not.”

“Let’s stop pretending they are all refugees in distress, the whole country knows that is not true.”

The Sunday Times reported that Braverman had been accused of ignoring warnings that failing to sign off funding for hotel accommodation for people at the site was resulting in people being illegally detained.

But she strongly denied that she had ignored legal advice, insisting that while she was “very concerned about hotels” being used to house migrants, she had “never blocked their usage”.

Speaking to PoliticsHome, Lord Dubs said he was “not optimistic” when he heard about Braverman being appointed as Home Secretary “given her past record”. Braverman was forced to resign from the same role over a security breach just six days before being reappointed.

Commenting on the situation at the Manston processing centre, he said: “I think it is a national scandal. This is a human rights scandal, what is happening. 

“I would have thought that rather than make speeches about invasion, she should be getting on with dealing with the issue, getting people out of Manston airport, giving them better conditions and getting their asylum claims processed.”

He urged the government to work with European partners to tackle the rising number of Channel crossing, as no “one country in Europe can deal with this”.

“We should deal with refugees in Europe on a collaborative basis with other European countries, whether they're in the EU or not. We should share responsibility. And above all, we should seek to have a better relationship with the French. We can't go on like this,” Lord Dubs continued.

He felt that one of the most pressing issues was that the “number of people who are being assessed for refugee status is so low”.

Between 2014 and 2021, the number of asylum claims dealt with within six months has fallen from 87 per cent to six per cent. 

“People are hanging on at Manston airport in terrible conditions because the Home Office can't get his act together," he continued. 

“Rather than abuse people who have come to safety, the Home Secretary should have a better system in their own department.”

Responding to the comments, a source close to the Home Secretary said: “We’ve had record numbers of migrants crossing the Channel in small boats this year and the Home Secretary was simply being honest with the British people about the scale of the crisis we are facing on the south coast.

“She is the one working flat out to bear down on illegal migration so that we can accommodate genuine refugees to this country.”

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