Hunt distances himself from Braverman’s migration speech

Home Secretary Suella Braverman delivers a speech on migration at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington DC (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Home Secretary Suella Braverman delivers a speech on migration at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington DC (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Jeremy Hunt appeared to distance himself from Suella Braverman’s migration speech as he said he “wouldn’t use her words”.

The Chancellor, whose wife is Chinese, stressed the benefits of allowing skilled foreign workers into the UK when he was asked about the Home Secretary’s recent remarks.

Her speech in the United States last week, in which she argued that being discriminated against for being gay or a woman should not grant a person refugee status in the UK, has prompted a backlash, including from her own party.

Ms Braverman was also criticised by the United Nations refugee agency for saying that international treaties such as the UN Refugee Convention and the European Convention on Human Rights should be reformed.

Speaking from the Conservative Party conference in Manchester on Monday, Mr Hunt told TalkTV: “I am married to an immigrant and I’ve always believed that we benefit massively as a country from welcoming the brightest and best from all over the world.

“Suella Braverman wouldn’t use my words, I wouldn’t use her words.

“But she’s absolutely right that the social contract that makes Britain one of the most tolerant countries in the world when it comes to immigrants depends on fairness.

“And what we’re seeing at the moment with these criminal gangs smuggling thousands of people over the Channel is not fair. It’s an abuse of the way the law works in Britain, it’s an abuse of all the public services that you get free of charge here.

“And she is absolutely right to tackle that because otherwise we will undermine that social contract, and we won’t have that tolerant attitude that we’re so proud of having in this country.”

Other senior Tories, including the Home Secretary’s predecessor Dame Priti Patel, have also taken aim at Ms Braverman’s speech.

On Sunday, Dame Priti suggested the remarks may have been made to “get attention” and was “no substitute for action” on preventing small boats of migrants crossing the Channel.

The former home secretary also appeared to criticise Mrs Braverman’s declaration that multiculturalism had failed, saying integration in Britain by ethnic minorities is something to be “proud of”.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has pledged to stop the boats – one of his five commitments to the electorate ahead of a likely general election next year.

Almost 25,000 migrants have arrived on small boats since January, although that is around a quarter down on the same period last year.