British Home Secretary Suella Braverman warned this week that the migrant crisis in the United Kingdom has reached the level of an “invasion,” which drew both criticism and support from local politicians, with some calling for her resignation.
“The British people deserve to know which party is serious about stopping the invasion on our southern coast and which party is not,” Braverman, a conservative, said this week. “Let’s stop pretending they are all refugees in distress, the whole country knows that is not true.”
Braverman added that her country’s “hopelessly lax asylum system” is “broken.”
Braverman’s comments drew harsh criticism from liberal politicians, including Kim Johnson, a lawmaker for the main opposition Labour Party, who said Braverman’s language would inflame tensions amid the growing immigration crisis along the English Channel.
Anne McLaughlin, a Scottish Nationalist Party member of Parliament, said she was “disgusted, absolutely disgusted to hear a Home secretary deliberately use inflammatory language about vulnerable asylum seekers.” She called the remarks shameful.
“She’s totally unfit to be Home secretary,” Labor MP Zarah Sultana said, according to The Sun.
Immigration minister Robert Jenrick attempted to clarify Braverman’s comment by saying “you have to choose your words very carefully” and that he would “never demonize people coming to this country in pursuit of a better life,” Sky News reported. However, Jenrick explained that Braverman “was trying to express” the severity of the crisis.
“The Home secretary was seeking to express the sheer scale of the challenge that faces the country, with people, including a significant proportion of economic migrants, seeking to make this journey,” a spokesperson for newly installed U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said, according to the BBC.
Nigel Farage, former leader of the Brexit Party as well as UKIP, defended Braverman on Twitter.
“It’s a word I’ve been using for two years that I’ve been condemned for,” Farage said in a video message. “I expect even more pressure to come on the Home secretary. I really hope she stays in post but believe me, the establishment are out to get her because she’s got the guts to say many of these people just are not refugees.”
The number of people making the hazardous journey across one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes has risen sharply in recent years, with 40,000 reaching the U.K. so far this year, up from 28,000 in all of 2021 and 8,500 in 2020. Some have predicted the number of migrants crossing into the United Kingdom could pass 60,000 by the end of the year.
Braverman was reappointed by Sunak last week, six days after she resigned from the same role for breaching ministerial rules by sending a sensitive government document via her personal email.
She has also been accused of failing to listen to legal advice on the prolonged detention of migrants at a processing center and failing to secure adequate accommodation for them, both claims she has denied. She has, so far, ignored calls to resign once again.
Braverman’s comments came the day after an immigration center in Dover was targeted with gasoline bombs on Sunday, injuring one person before the suspect reportedly killed himself.
“No Home secretary who was serious about public safety or national security would use highly inflammatory language on the day after a dangerous petrol bomb attack on a Dover initial processing center,” Yvette Cooper, the home affairs spokeswoman for the opposition Labour Party, said.
Braverman is also facing criticism after revealing that “high numbers” of migrants could potentially take legal action against the government for being housed at processing centers longer than the law permits, The Sun reported.
Some have attempted to place blame on Braverman for the legal issues, which could mean payouts of up to 6,000 British pounds for each migrant, and alleged that she blocked migrants from being sent to hotels.
Braverman has denied that she “deliberately” blocked the transfer of migrants, adding that the criticisms were part of a “political witch hunt” that ignores the “facts of the problem.”
“Illegal immigration is out of control,” Braverman said.
About a fifth of British voters say dealing with immigration is the most challenging issue facing the country, according to a YouGov poll published this month.
“The number of people arriving in the U.K. via small boats has reached record levels and continues to put our asylum system under incredible pressure,” a spokesperson for the U.K. Home Office told Fox News Digital. “Manston remains resourced and equipped to process migrants securely and we will provide alternative accommodation as soon as possible.”
“We urge anyone who is thinking about leaving a safe country and risking their lives at the hands of criminal people smugglers to seriously reconsider,” the statement continued. “Despite what they have been told, they will not be allowed to start a new life here.”
The Home Office added that it will continue to provide for all the basic needs of migrants who arrive at their processing centers and said they are “absolutely committed to securing the welfare of all migrants and staff” at the Manston processing center.
Fox News’ Stephen Sorace and Reuters contributed to this report