Suella Braverman calls on world leaders to rip up the U.N. Refugee Convention

Braverman's proposals have been condemned by human rights groups and refugee charities.

The Conservative Party leadership contest is often a race to the bottom and Suella Braverman has proven this once more, as she continues to make a bid for the future leadership of the party, with speeches aimed at wooing the Tory grassroots.

Her latest ill-thought out and extreme right-wing idea is to persuade world leaders to rip up the 70-year-old U.N. Refugee Convention and to rewrite it to ensure refugee rules are fit for the ‘modern age’.

Addressing a think tank in Washington DC, the Home Secretary said that seeking asylum and seeking better economic prospects are not the same thing.

Politico reports that ‘Braverman says refugees cannot be allowed to “shop around” for safe havens, arguing that the convention is being interpreted as providing a right to asylum to those who face discrimination, rather than the higher bar of persecution’.

Addressing the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, Braverman will say: “It is incumbent upon politicians and thought leaders to ask whether the refugee convention, and the way it has come to be interpreted through our courts, is fit for our modern age. Or whether it is in need of reform.”

Her speech comes after the UNHCR, the UN’s refugee agency, claimed that the UK government’s plan to send those who come into the UK illegally to Rwanda or a third country was “incompatible with the letter and spirit” of the convention.

Braverman will also claim that shifts in interpretation of the 1951 convention have led to increased numbers being defined as refugees. She is expected to say: “I think most members of the public would recognise those fleeing a real risk of death, torture, oppression or violence, as in need of protection.

“However, as case law has developed, what we have seen in practice is an interpretive shift away from ‘persecution’, in favour of something more akin to a definition of ‘discrimination”.

She will add: “Let me be clear, there are vast swathes of the world where it is extremely difficult to be gay, or to be a woman.

“Where individuals are being persecuted, it is right that we offer sanctuary.

“But we will not be able to sustain an asylum system if in effect, simply being gay, or a woman, and fearful of discrimination in your country of origin, is sufficient to qualify for protection.”

However, her proposals have been condemned by human rights groups and refugee charities.

Enver Solomon, chief executive of the Refugee Council, said: “A world where the UK and other western nations pull up the drawbridge and turn their backs on those who have been tortured, persecuted and faced terror because of their gender, sexuality or any other reason, is a world which turns its back on a belief in shared humanity and shared rights.

“After the horror of the Second World War, the international community chose to stand up for those principles which are just as important today as they have ever been.

“Abandoning them is not an option: we must stand firm in our commitment to all people fleeing persecution and the international frameworks that were created to protect them.”

Basit Mahmood is editor of Left Foot Forward

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