Braverman to announce major asylum shake-up

Suella Braverman visits immigration processing centre in Dover

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A pilot scheme she says has doubled the number of claims dealt with by each case worker will now be rolled-out across the UK. The Government is under fire for failing to stop around 40,000 migrants reaching the UK in small boats this year and Ms Braverman acknowledged the “British people are fed up”.

She admitted there is a “long way to go” but said: “It is not right that the British people are picking up a £2billion bill every year because the asylum system has been broken by an unprecedented wave of illegal immigration.”

The announcement comes as Conservative MPs warn the crisis could cost the party the next election if it is not tackled.

A praetorian guard of Tory MPs have rallied around the controversial Home Secretary and are determined to stop her foes ousting her from office. Ms Braverman’s supporters say she represents Britain’s “best chance” of resolving the crisis and have called on the Prime Minister to give her the backing she needs to finish the job.

Her allies warn that Labour “smells blood” and say a “hateful campaign” against her must not succeed.

There was shock when it was revealed last month that 96 percent of claims from people who arrived in small boats in 2021 have not been processed.

The new method of dealing with asylum claims trail-blazed in Leeds uses digital technology to speed up bureaucracy. It reduced the time asylum seekers waited for a first interview by nearly 40 percent and will be introduced across the country as 100,000 people wait for a decision on their claim.

A Home Office source said: “This shows our commitment to clearing the asylum backlog and ensuring we can process claims more speedily. It will mean genuine asylum seekers can stay in this country under settled status and those who are not welcome, or have made bogus claims, can be kicked out.”

Ms Braverman has been blasted for overcrowding at the Manston holding centre in Kent, where up to 4,000 were held at a site intended to hold 1,600. She has also been attacked for describing the arrival of migrants as an “invasion”.

However, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak defended Ms Braverman, saying she was “conveying a sense of scale of the challenge we face, which is serious and unprecedented”’.

A Conservative backbencher leading calls to support the Home Secretary said: “The right people are getting upset by the word invasion. It absolutely works with the average man and woman in the street. That is the word they would use.”

A recruitment drive for 500 more asylum caseworkers is underway, with the goal of having 1,500 in place by March.

Lee Anderson, who won the “red wall” seat of Ashfield for the Conservatives from Labour at the last election, stressed the need for a breakthrough.

He said: “Many voters voted Conservative for the first time in 2019 to protect our borders and they thought the Conservatives were the party of law and order and so far we’re letting them down. We need to get a grip on it.”

Adamant that Ms Braverman is the right person to do this, he said: “Without a shadow of a doubt, Suella is our best chance of sorting out the small boat problem. She gets it.”

Mr Anderson now wants to see strong support for the Home Secretary across Government and Parliament.

He said: “I just hope that Government, cabinet, No 10 and the whole of parliament have got the guts to back her.”

Warning that her opponents must not be allowed to oust her, he said: “The Labour party and the media can smell blood. They think now they can get rid of leaders and high-ranking ministers of state; we need to stop that from happening.”

Strong support for Ms Braverman came from former security minister Sir John Hayes.

He said: “She has successfully changed the dynamic of the debate by speaking for the people. She’s become the champion of those who realise we’ve had too much immigration into this country for too long.”

Ms Braverman resigned last month after sending a draft ministerial statement from her private email account to Sir John but was reappointed as Home Secretary when Mr Sunak became PM.

Sir John said she had the “brain”, “the heart” and the “backbone” for the role.

Ipswich Conservative MP Tom Hunt said: “She speaks for millions of people up and down the country. Everything has got to be on the table when it comes to solving this problem, but she has been the victim of a pretty hateful campaign against her.”

Dudley North Conservative MP Marco Longhi warned: “I can’t see us winning the next election unless we resolve this matter… No 10 need to realise this is not just a priority.

“This is the number one priority.”

However, the Home Secretary has opponents who are angered by her record so far.

A Home Office source said: “She’s been here five minutes – and already been sacked once – and done nothing. She seems to have spent most of her time here slagging off everything that this department has done to alleviate the problem but has no plan and no solution.”

Officials accused her of trying to shift blame for over-crowding at the Manston refugee camp onto her predecessor Priti Patel.

An official said the Manston centre was only opened after Ms Patel battled for 18 months with the Chancellor, then Mr Sunak, for funding. Now they fear the site will be closed down creating an even bigger problem for migrants who arrive by boat.

The insider added: “Her aggressive and hostile rhetoric is inciting racial tensions in the local community. We have always tried to be compassionate.”

A Government source said: “The PM and Home Secretary are committed to tackling the problem of illegal migration. There is no one silver bullet to fix the issue which is why we’ll work across multiple fronts – including speeding up application processing to cut the backlog – to end the evil gangs’ vile trade in human misery.”

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