Braverman denies small boats plan breaks law after being asked about Mo Farah | Suella Braverman

Braverman denies small boats plan breaks law after being asked about Mo Farah | Suella Braverman

Suella Braverman has denied the government is breaking the law with controversial measures in which asylum seekers arriving in the UK via small boats will be detained and deported, despite telling Conservatives there was a more than 50% chance the plans may be incompatible with the European convention on human rights.

The home secretary on Wednesday struggled to clarify if the Olympian Sir Mo Farah would have been deported as soon as he turned 18 years old under the proposed regulations, or why he would not have been deported, as he was trafficked to the UK aged nine.

Unveiling the plans to Conservatives, Braverman admitted the illegal migration bill was “more than 50%” likely to break human rights laws. The UN refugee agency said it was “profoundly concerned” by the bill’s provisions, which would give the government the right to criminalise, detain and deport asylum seekers, saying it would be a “clear breach of the refugee convention”.


“We’re not breaking the law, and no government representative has said that we’re breaking the law,” Braverman told Sky News. “In fact, we’ve made it very clear that we believe we’re in compliance with all of our international obligations, for example the refugee convention, the European convention on human rights, other conventions to which we are subject.

“They are breaking our laws, they are abusing the generosity of the British people and we now need to ensure that they are deterred from doing that.”

The asylum backlog is spiralling, with a record 166,000 people waiting for a decision to be made on their applications. But Braverman could not say when the first asylum seekers would be deported under the new plans, or when more detention centres would be built as capacity to keep refugees was already stretched.

Braverman said: “We are rolling out new detention spaces,” but added she was not going to give precise dates because “we’ve got logistical challenges that we’re always overcoming … But very, very soon we will be expanding our detention capacity to meet the the need,” she told Sky News.

When asked if Farah would have been deported under the proposals, initially Braverman swerved the question and told Sky: “Well, as I said we are very proud of our world-leading modern slavery regime. We’ve got world-leading protections on human trafficking, proud of protections the Conservative government have put in place to protect genuine victims of modern slavery.”


When pressed again, Braverman added: “We have very lawful … for people who are genuine victims of modern slavery.”

The contentious bill will introduce an annual cap, to be decided by parliament, on the number of refugees the UK will offer sanctuary to through safe and legal routes – but only once the boats have been stopped.

The TV presenter Gary Lineker described the Tories’ latest plan to imprison asylum seekers entering the UK as “beyond awful”.

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Lineker, who welcomed a second refugee into his Surrey home in October last year, tweeted a video of Braverman claiming that: “Enough is enough. We must stop the boats”, with the words “Good heavens, this is beyond awful”.

Braverman said his comments were “disappointing and unhelpful”. She told the BBC: “I think it’s unhelpful to compare our measures, which are lawful, proportionate and indeed compassionate, to 1930s Germany. I also think that we are on the side of the British people here.

“It’s plain for anyone to see that the British people have had enough of this situation of thousands of people coming here illegally at huge cost to the taxpayer and undermining our laws, and, in fact, British generosity.”

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