Suella Braverman

Statement to the House of Commons on the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill

delivered 17 January 2024, London, England


[AUTHENTICITY CERTIFIED: Text version below transcribed directly from audio]

Dame Rosie Winterton: Suella Braverman.

MP SUELLA BRAVERMAN: Madam Chairman, I rise to speak in support of Amendment 11, tabled by my Right Honourable Friend, the Member for Newark [Robert Jenrick], commanding the support of over 50, 60 of my colleagues. And I note the comments made by the Honourable Member for Walthamstow [Stella Creasy]. I would like to respond to some of them that she's made in the course of my comments.

Now, we are here to fix a problem, the problem that we are all seized by, that is stopping the boats. And this is our third attempt to fix this problem. We passed the Nationality and Borders Act in 2021 [2022]. We then passed the Illegal Migration Act in 2023. And we are here again, third time around, with the Safety of Rwanda [Asylum and Immigration] Bill, 2024. And the British people are fed up. They have run out of patience. They have run out of time, and this is our last chance to get it right.

Now, the amendment on the table here seeks to remedy a fatal flaw in the Bill, that being that this Bill, as currently drafted, will lead us directly to a rerun of the scenario that we all saw on the 14th of June 2022, when the then Home Office and Administration had identified a cohort of illegal migrants, filled a plane ready to take off to Rwanda, but at the 11th hour, pursuant to an opaque process, a decision was made by an unidentified -- still unidentified -- judge in a foreign court that had the effect of blocking the flight --

MP PATRICK GRADY [off mic]: Oooooooh.

MP BRAVERMAN: Sorry, do you have something to say? Why don't you --


MP BRAVERMAN: Why don't you -- [gestures to MP Grady to speak].

MP GRADY:  I'm not sure why we have to be frightened of foreign courts. What exactly is wrong with a foreign court...?

MP BRAVERMAN: Well, well I'll tell you what we have -- why we have a problem with a foreign court. When actually in that scenario, English courts have actually refused injunctions by the migrants to get off the flight. The foreign court overrode English judges, overrode the will of the Government, overrode the will of the British people to control our borders and stop the boats.1 That's a problem with a foreign court. And that's the problem that we are trying to fix.

And so, when that flight was grounded in June 2022, it was because of these Rule 39 interim injunctions. Now, these orders are not contained in the European Convention on Human Rights. They are not a...product or content of the original documents of the Convention itself. They are a creation of the Strasbourg Court and the Strasbourg judges. They have evolved over time pursuant to the living instrument doctrine that is espoused by the Strasbourg Court and that has inflated and expanded its remit over decades, beyond anything conceived by the original drafters, beyond any intentioned -- intentions set out in the original versions of the European Convention.

Now, no one here, I believe, disagrees with the aspirations and the content of the European Convention on Human Rights. I don't disagree with anything set out in that document. It contains noble and vital rights, fundamental rights, human rights, that we are all proud to defend fervently and fiercely: against oppressive regimes; against authoritarianism; against genocide; against mass killings; against some of the worst atrocities that history has seen. That's -- That's what has -- was the creation -- that's what the context was for the -- the genesis of the European Convention.

The problem, the problem that we're dealing with here -- and this is where I want to respond to the Honourable Member, the Honourable Lady's comments about the issue -- is the [Strasbourg] Court. It's the Court that has become politicized. It's the Court that has become interventionist. It's the Court which doesn't follow the traditional rules of precedence that our common-law system here in the English Court subscribes to. It's the Court and the judges in the Strasbourg Court, in the European Court of Human Rights, that has distorted, that has distorted the original European Convention on Human Rights into something that bears no reflection, as I said, to what was originally indented.2

And it's been exacerbated by Labourís Human Rights Act. And over previous recent decades we have seen the "rights culture," the litigiousness around immigration and asylum and many, many other areas of public sector decision making become stymied and thwarted and undermined by a heavily resourced and activist legal industry: undermining Government decision making, stymying policy making, undermining law enforcement and public safety.

To take but a few examples:

Take the case of a Nigerian national, case is 00; sentenced in 2016 to four years in prison for offenses including possession of crack cocaine and heroin with the intention to supply; pleaded guilty in 2017 to battery and assault -- serious offenses. In 2020, the first-tier tribunal allowed his appeal against deportation on grounds that he had very significant obstacles to integration in Nigeria, and they outweighed the public interest in his deportation. Despite the serious nature of his offending, despite the risk that he posed to the public -- nope, his Article 8 rights, interpreted in a vastly elastic way -- a distorted, illogical way -- operated to stop that man being deported.

Or the case of D v. UK. Where Article 3 -- Article 3 we can all agree with, it prohibits torture and inhumane treatment, degrading treatment. But in -- in this case, in D v. UK, a case of a non-national [UK] who was convicted for dealing drugs, the Strasbourg Court held that the effect of discontinuing his medical treatment, available in the UK but not available in his destination country, amounted to inhumane or degrading treatment under Article tree -- 3. Why should a convicted drug dealer be entitled to public services here and not be deported?

MP SIR JOHN HAYNES: Will my Right Honourable Friend give way?

Dame Rosie Winterton: Sir John Haynes.

MP SIR JOHN HAYNES: I'm grateful to my Right Honourable Friend. And surely on that basis almost any deportation could be blocked, for there are few countries in the world that can match the standard of our NHS [National Health Service], and once that precedent's been set, every person will claim they require treatment for the most minor of ailment.

Dame Rosie Winterton: Suella Braverman.

MP BRAVERMAN: I'm a -- I'm afraid that my Right Honourable Friend is absolutely right to highlight that point. And it's Article 3, it's stretched interpretation originating in the jurisprudence from the Strasbourg Court, by politicized judges who have a political agenda that they are pursuing which has led to a perception that here in the UK we have an international health service, not a national health service.

Or lastly, AM Zimbabwe, a case from 2022, where it has now become law -- thanks to that case -- that  states who want to remove someone have to prove that medical facilities available to the deportee in their home country would remove any real risk that their lifespan would be shortened by the removal from NHS facilities -- exactly the point that my Right Honourable Friend has made. It is now a duty on the UK Government to establish that foreign health services are...sufficient before we deport people who may well pose a risk to public safety, and national security in some cases, in this country.

So, those are the overall problems with the [Strasbourg] Court -- not the Convention, but with the Court. And Rule 39 is another symptom of the problem that we have with the Court and with the judges. And that's why this amendment is absolutely vital, because this amendment that has been tabled will make it clear that Rule 39 orders are not binding and that it will be for the UK Government to make the decision on deportation, not for a foreign court -- an [un]identified judge somewhere far away who does not have the same ambition or aspiration as this UK Government to stop the boats. And that's why I will support this amendment enthusiastically today.

Just to conclude my comments, Madame Chairman, this is our last chance to fix this problem. We have stretched the patience of the British people.

But this comes down to a very simple but profound question ultimately of who governs Britain? Is it us, the democratically elected representatives who have been directly sent here on behalf of the British people on a clear mandate and a clear instruction on what to do, and whose laws are passed by a clear and transparent majority to which we can all be held to account at the ballot box? Or is it an opaque forum many miles away in a different country -- distant, outsourced, foreign, which does not share our values, which does not --

MP GRADY: [rises]

MP BRAVERMAN: -- no, no, I won't because I -- which does not share our values, which has made decisions time and time again which are at odds with what the British people have indicated that they want, and which has operated to undermine our public safety, our national security, and our good governance?

The operation of the Strasbourg Court -- call it "Strasbourg Court," call it "foreign court," you can -- you can argue about semantics -- it's the European Court of Human Rights that we are concerned with here. And it is that court that is currently controlling this country's ability to stop the boats. It is that court and its jurisprudence that is stopping this Government for -- from delivering for this British people.

We made a vow to the British people that we would stop the boats. That was a solemn vow that I took incredibly seriously. It is what people voted for in 2016 in the Brexit referendum by a majority. And I [know] most people on that side of...the Chamber [the Opposition] don't want to believe the majority, still live in denial and don't want to accept the facts. It's what people voted for by a huge majority in 2019: to control our borders and to stop the boats. We made a promise. We made -- [gives way to MP Creasy].

MP STELLA CREASY: ... if the Lady can wait. And I know she feels as passionately. I just wonder if she could clarify -- 'cause she's got a concern there about a "foreign court." What does she think NATO is?

MP BRAVERMAN: NATO is not a court. I'm -- I'm slightly embarrassed that I have to make that clear to the Honourable Lady. That's really elementary politics. We are being governed by a foreign court and judges who do not have our interests at heart. The decisions coming from that court are stopping us from controlling our borders. The amendment tabled here will prevent that foreign court from stopping us.

And that's why we need to support the amendment. It will fix this Bill. This Bill needs to work. It is our last chance. If we get it wrong, the British people will not forgive us, and they would be right to do so.

1  Assertively propounded anaphora

2 A second assertively propounded anaphora

See also: The Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill and Timeline of Progress

And also: Transcript of the Entire House of Commons Debate During on the day of MP Brarverman's Remarks

Original Text Source:

Original Audio and Video Source:

Text Note: Additional transcript editing by Michael E. Eidenmuller

Page Updated: 1/25/24

U.S. Copyright Status: Text = Contains Parliamentary information licensed under the Open Parliament Licence v3.0. Text authenticated to reflect as delivered audio data and this site's English punctuation practices. Audio and Video = Used in compliance with the terms found here (excepting a slight volume adjustment  and transcoded audio).

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