Britain’s Indian-origin Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, on Monday, issued a stark warning shot against “unsustainable” mass and rapid migration into the country and called for action to cut growing migrant numbers.
In a speech at the National Conservatism Conference in London, which was interrupted twice by protesters who shouted about migration, the 43-year-old London-born Tory MP called on her governing Conservative Party to renew its commitment to bring down immigration.
The Brexit-backing Cabinet minister said it was time for the UK to train more workers within the country to reduce reliance on foreign workers.
“It’s not xenophobic to say that mass and rapid migration is unsustainable in terms of housing supply, public services and community relations,” said Braverman.
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“While illegal migration is rightly our priority given the acute challenges we face in the [English] Channel, we must not lose sight of the importance of controlling legal migration too,” she said.
Braverman, of Goan and Tamil heritage, referenced her parents as having come to the UK through “legal and controlled migration” to stress that there was nothing wrong about someone from an ethnic minority background making such arguments.
“They spoke the language. They threw themselves into the community, embraced British values. When they arrived, they signed up to be part of our shared project because the UK meant something distinct. Integration was part of the quid pro quo,” she noted.
“The unexamined drive towards multiculturalism as an end in itself, combined with identity politics, is a recipe for communal disaster. We cannot have immigration without integration,” she said.
Braverman declared that she had “voted and campaigned for” Brexit because she wanted Britain to control migration and have a say on what works for the country.
“High-skilled workers support economic growth. And where the labour market has acute or structural shortages, as with the NHS, it is of course right that we should have an immigration system agile enough to plug those shortages. But we need to get overall immigration numbers down,” she said, calling for training enough truck drivers, butchers, builders and fruit pickers within the country to reduce reliance on migrant workers.
The speech is being seen in many quarters as piling pressure on her boss, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, to focus on cutting soaring net migration numbers, which has been above the half-a-million-a-year mark since Brexit.
Sunak’s “Stop the Boats” pledge to curb illegal migration is among the key priorities for his premiership ahead of an expected general election in the second half of next year.
The government’s Illegal Migration Bill, which aims to ensure that people arriving in the UK without permission will be detained and swiftly removed either to their home country or to a third country such as Rwanda, is currently in Parliament even as it faces criticism from many for some of its controversial provisions.