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UK Home secretary says Britain facing Channel 'invasion'

UK home secretary says Britain facing 'invasion' of asylum seekers one day after attack on immigration centre
3 min read
UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman told the House of Commons on Monday that Britain faces an 'invasion' from people travelling in small boats across the Channel from France. Refugee campaigners accused her of stoking anti-migrant sentiment.
Suella Braverman challenged her critics to try to get rid of her in the Commons on Monday [source: Getty]

British Home Secretary Suella Braverman said the country faces an "invasion" from people travelling in small boats crossing the English Channel as she fought back against mounting pressure over her repeated security breaches.

Braverman was reappointed interior minister by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak last week, six days after she resigned from the same role for sending a government document from her personal email to an employee of a member of parliament in breach of the rules.

Speaking to parliament over allegedly failing to listen to legal advice on the prolonged detention of migrants at an asylum processing centre in southern England, Braverman said the current system is "broken" and "out of control".

"Let's stop pretending they are all refugees in distress, the whole country knows that is not true," she said.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who became Britain's third prime minister in two months last week, has seen his early days in office overshadowed by the row about her reappointment.

Opposition parties and even some members of parliament in the governing Conservative Party have questioned her suitability for the role.

On Monday, Braverman acknowledged she had sent official government documents to her personal email address six times, raising fresh concerns about breaches of ministerial rules while in charge of the nation's security.

Braverman defended her decision to keep thousands of people at a migrant centre in Kent after some of her colleagues accused her of deliberately ignoring legal advice to transfer people from the site to hotels.

Conditions at the site at Manston in Kent were last week described by Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration David Neal as "pretty wretched".

Intended to house around 1,500 migrants for less than 24 hours at a time, numbers have swelled to more than double that, with one Afghan family saying they had been there for 32 days.

Braverman, who is charge of the ministry responsible for policing and immigration, said she is facing a "political witch hunt" from opponents. 

The Home Secretary's inflammatory statement came just one day after a man attacked an immigration centre in southern England with what is believed to be petrol bombs.

Many refugee campaigners blamed Braverman's rhetoric for stoking public fear against migrants, many of whom cross the channel to flee persecution and war.