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Assessing Braverman’s legacy as Home Secretary: Part Deux

She managed longer than 43 days this time. But achieved little if anything more the second time around.

Braverman forced the Illegal Migration Act 2023 through Parliament in record time on the basis that it was desperately urgent. Almost all of the legislation has not yet been brought into force. We keep talking about running a course on it at Free Movement but there’s still very little to say about it, other than what it will do if brought into effect.

Meanwhile, one of the key planks of the “landmark” legislation of the previous incumbent was quietly abandoned.

The Rwanda policy is that of Braverman’s predecessor. Braverman was merely its handmaiden. Even then she couldn’t hang on long enough to be in post when the Supreme Court makes its decision.

The number of small boat crossings has fallen compared to the previous year. As the Refugee Council has explained, this is because Albanians stopped coming. Once the weird surge in Albanian arrivals last year is stripped out of the figures, the number of crossings is actually up not down. Structurally, the issue is getting worse not better.

The asylum backlog has stabilised and perhaps even started to come down slightly. This is good news. It seems that Robert Jenrick, the immigration minister Rishi Sunak appointed to the Home Office to keep an eye on things, is responsible for that, though. And progress has been incredibly limited. As I’ve said before, it’s not that hard to grant asylum to nationals of countries like Afghanistan, Eritrea, Sudan and Eritrea, which all have an incredibly high grant rate, so it is a mystery why it is still proving so difficult. And the cost to the taxpayer of all this faffing around is astronomical. It’s not just the British taxpayer, though, it’s also those who would have been helped by the money that has been plundered from the British aid budget to fund the backlog.

Then there’s all the talk. So much talk. And so very damaging. There are some who argue Braverman knows what she is saying and does it deliberately as part of a masterplan. There are others who suggest she’s an idiot who doesn’t understand the implications of an actual Home Secretary saying far-right talking points out loud. Personally, I suspect the latter.

The disease-ridden barge stands out as an appropriate emblem of Braverman’s second time around as Home Secretary. Entirely symbolic, with less than 500 beds in the context of a backlog of tens of thousands. More expensive than other asylum accommodation or hotels. Designed entirely to appease the right-wing press. And incompetently executed to the point it lay empty for weeks and weeks.

A vacant, expensive, media-pleasing symbol.

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Colin Yeo

Immigration and asylum barrister, blogger, writer and consultant at Garden Court Chambers in London and founder of the Free Movement immigration law website.