The Government will not be deflected from measures to tackle migrant small boat crossings in the Channel by EU concerns that they could breach human rights laws, Home Secretary Suella Braverman has said.
EU home affairs commissioner Ylva Johansson told the Politico news website she had warned Ms Braverman on Tuesday that the Illegal Migration Bill violated international law.
The Home Secretary confirmed she had briefed Ms Johansson before she delivered her Commons statement setting out details of the legislation.
But, speaking on ITV’s Peston show, she also made clear that the UK was no longer bound by EU rules and was free to set its own migration policy.
“I invited her to read the detail, and I am very happy to speak to her about the detail of the Bill.
“But we are no longer members of the European Union and so we are free to determine our own borders and migration policy.
“We believe our measures to be lawful, proper, necessary, compassionate and the fair thing to do, and that’s why we’re moving forward with them.”
Her comments come as Rishi Sunak prepares to travel to Paris on Friday where he is expected to seek further help from President Emmanuel Macron in stopping the migrant boats leaving French beaches.
Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick acknowledged on Wednesday that they would be deploying some “novel” legal arguments to defend the measures, but said he was confident they would prove effective.
“We are confident that we have got strong legal arguments. They are in some cases new and novel legal arguments. I don’t think that should surprise anyone,” he told Channel 4 News
“These are new legal principles but they are likely to be upheld by the courts.”
Meanwhile Ms Braverman has insisted that she had not sanctioned an email sent out in her name accusing civil servants of blocking previous Government attempts to tackle illegal migration.
The message, sent to thousands of Conservative Party members, blamed “an activist blob of left-wing lawyers, civil servants and the Labour Party” for the failure of previous efforts.
However, Ms Braverman said: “I didn’t write that email, I didn’t see it, and it was an error, really, that it was sent out in my name.”
She said she had been “incredibly impressed” with the dedication and hard work of officials in the Home Office who had been working on the latest measures.
Earlier Conservative Campaign Headquarters (CCHQ), which distributed the email, admitted that “the wording wasn’t seen by the Home Secretary” and said it is “reviewing” its internal clearance processes.