“It’s not racist for anyone, ethnic minority or otherwise, to want to control our borders. It’s not bigoted to say that we have too many asylum seekers who are abusing the system. It’s not xenophobic to say that mass and rapid migration places pressure on housing, public services and community relations,” said Suella Braverman, to applause during her first speech as Home Secretary at the annual Conservative Party conference this week.
Referencing her own diaspora roots as the daughter of a Tamil mother and Goan-origin father, she noted: “My parents came here through legal and controlled migration. They spoke the language, threw themselves into the community, they embraced British values. When they arrived, they signed up to be part of our shared project because the United Kingdom meant something distinct. Integration was part of the quid pro quo.”
With reference to the recent incidents of clashes in Leicester, she blamed a failure of new migrants to integrate in a city otherwise known for its religious harmony.
“I saw this when I went to Leicester recently. A melting pot of cultures and a beacon of religious harmony. But even there, riots and civil disorder have taken place because of failures to integrate large numbers of newcomers. Such conflict has no place in the UK,” she said.
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As the newly appointed minister in charge of the country’s borders, she pledged to cut “low-skilled foreign workers” as part of her mission is to “control our borders”. The barrister and former Attorney General who had backed Brexit in the 2016 referendum said the full benefits of leaving the European Union (EU) could be realised through legislation.
She said: “I have concerns about having an open borders migration policy with India because I don’t think that’s what people voted for with Brexit.
Asked whether she would support a deal if it involved greater flexibility for Indian students and entrepreneurs, she added: “But I do have some reservations. Look at migration in this country – the largest group of people who overstay are Indian migrants.
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“We even reached an agreement with the Indian government last year to encourage and facilitate better cooperation in this regard. It has not necessarily worked very well.”
Earlier in the week, Braverman spoke out in support of Liz Truss and condemned the “coup” being plotted by some party colleagues against a newly elected leader. It came during the course of a tumultuous week when the government withdrew its proposed abolition of the 45 per cent top rate of income tax amid a threat of Tory backbench rebellion.
Truss herself referenced that in her maiden speech as party leader as a sign that: “I get it and I have listened”.