Politicians representing Greater Manchester have commented on the Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s claim that fearing discrimination for being a woman or gay is not enough to qualify for refugee status.
Lisa Nandy, MP for Wigan, responded to Braverman’s comments that multiculturalism has failed on BBC Question Time in Sale: “I would just like to say to politicians like Suella: it was a gift to grow up in this city (Manchester), that has been shaped by waves of immigration over many centuries and has always provided a warm welcome to refugees fleeing persecution.
“The problem in this country is not… our (people from different backgrounds’) inability to understand one another. The problems facing this country have one cause and one cause alone: politicians like Suella Braverman and this Tory government.”
Labour’s Yasmin Qureshi, MP for Bolton South East, also commented on the Home Secretary’s claims, saying: “Braverman’s speech was a dangerous and divisive narrative designed to further her own career.”
Yet former Manchester City Council Leader and current Labour MP for Blackley and Broughton, Graham Stringer, said in an interview with GB News: “What seems to have been forgotten is Suella Braverman is not the first Home Secretary to call for a review of the definition of refugees and a change to the 1951 Convention.
“Almost as soon as he became Home Secretary in 1997, Jack Straw said that the Convention was out of date and needed looking at.
“There are very few things that last nearly three-quarters of a century… so I don’t disagree that the Convention needs looking at.”
Speaking in the US, Braverman had questioned the UN’s 1951 Refugee Convention, saying that people claiming asylum after passing through safe countries is “absurd and unsustainable”.
In an interview on ITV’s flagship political programme, Peston, the Home Secretary clarified her comments, suggesting that the current system allows people to “purport to be gay when they’re not actually gay”, in order to gain refugee status.
"People purport to be gay when they're not actually gay"— Peston (@itvpeston) September 27, 2023
Home Secretary @SuellaBraverman accuses asylum seekers of lying about their sexuality to gain refugee status in the UK
Full interview with @AnushkaAsthana tonight ⬇️
💻LIVE 9PM @itvpeston
📺11.15PM @ITV#Peston pic.twitter.com/PvLYPVH3vK
In response, the Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper called out Braverman on Twitter for choosing to “specifically target and criticise LGBT+ people to distract from her failure to tackle Tory asylum chaos.”
In another tweet, she suggested that the government has failed to go after criminal gangs and sort the record asylum backlog — instead resorting to criticising international agreements and LGBT refugees.
She stated bluntly, “Chaotic, divisive, shameful — no way to run a Government.”
Suella Braverman knows less than 2% of UK asylum applications are on sexual orientation and majority are granted.— Yvette Cooper (@YvetteCooperMP) September 27, 2023
Yet she chose to specifically target & criticise LGBT+ people to distract from her failure to tackle Tory asylum chaos. Divisive, truly shameful & demeans her office https://t.co/kHq3dswea6
The Refugee Convention was created following the Second World War and embodies the principle of basic minimum standards for the treatment of refugees.
It also includes a policy of “non-refoulement”, which means refugees should not be deported to the country from which they are fleeing if they fear for their life or fundamental freedoms.
The UK is one of nearly 150 countries which are signatories of the Convention.
The Home Secretary told the audience in the US that “we now live in a completely different time”, suggesting that the Convention is antiquated.
Braverman’s ideas will certainly be an issue addressed at the Conservative Party Conference, which continues this week.