Cabinet minister Lucy Frazer has defended the Home Secretary’s remarks on immigration in a speech in Washington, amid a backlash from charities and a rebuke from the UN refugee agency.
Suella Braverman on Tuesday refused to rule out the UK leaving the United Nations’ Refugee Convention if it continues unreformed, warning too of the “existential threat” of uncontrolled migration.
In a lengthy speech to a centre-right think tank, she also attacked the “misguided dogma” of multiculturalism, arguing that it had “failed”, with communities living “parallel lives”.
In comments criticised by equalities campaigners, she also said offering asylum to a person because they are discriminated against in their home country for being gay or a woman was not sustainable.
Back in Westminster the address was seen by some as an early leadership pitch by the senior Cabinet minister, who is a favourite of some MPs on the right of the party for her tough stance on illegal migration.
Ms Braverman received the backing of the Culture Secretary, who told Times Radio: “What she was talking about was the importance of integrating people who come here into our communities, and I think that’s a really valid point.”
Put to Ms Frazer that her great grandparents came to the UK as immigrants, she said: “They came because they were fleeing persecution in other countries and they integrated into our society.
“I think what she is talking about is the scale of immigration.”
Echoing Ms Braverman, she also declined to commit to keeping the UK in the UN Refugee Convention.
Calls for reform of the charter were swiftly rejected by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, which said the convention remained “crucial” for protecting people facing persecution.
Labour also joined in the criticism Ms Braverman, with shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper accusing her of “scapegoating” LGBT+ people during the Stateside speech.
Singer Sir Elton John also warned that she risked “further legitimising hate and violence” against LGBT+ people.
The visit saw Ms Braverman meet US secretary for homeland security Alejandro Mayorkas, during a visit to the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) in Alexandria, Virginia.
The meeting saw the pair jointly commit to exploring new ways to stop the spread of AI-generated images of child sexual abuse.
The Home Secretary said it was important to work “hand-in-glove” with the US to tackle the issue.