Fears of being branded “racist” or “illiberal” is hindering states from reforming the global asylum rules, Suella Braverman has said.
The Home Secretary was speaking during a trip to Washington DC, as she pointed to the need to reform the United Nations’ Refugee Convention.
The speech saw Ms Braverman hit back at critics, arguing that concerns over immigration does not make one an “idiot” or a “bigot”.
In the address, she said that the “cynical” reason that countries had together failed to reform the decades-old global asylum system was a “fear of being branded a racist or illiberal”.
“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 (European Convention on Human Rights) 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,” she said.
She added: “As if the UK doesn’t have a proud history of human rights dating back to Magna Carta, and the ECHR is all that is holding us back from becoming Russia.”
Ms Braverman also referenced her own family background, acknowledging that some immigration is necessary but it needed to be controlled by states.
“I am the child of immigrants.
“It is no betrayal of my parents’ story to say that immigration must be controlled.
“There is an optimal level of immigration.
“It is not zero.”
The senior Cabinet minister, whose past comments on asylum seekers have drawn criticism from campaigners and charities, said that there was a “democratic case” against “uncontrolled” migration.
“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,” she said.