A Tory minister clashed with Kay Burley over whether being gay or a woman should allow a refugee to claim asylum in the UK.
Chris Philp was grilled by the Sky News presenter as home secretary Suella Braverman prepares to make a major speech in America on whether the 1951 United Nations Refugee Convention is “fit for our modern age”.
She will say: “We will not be able to sustain an asylum system if in effect simply being gay, or a woman, and fearful of discrimination in your country of origin is sufficient to qualify for protection.”
Burley asked Philp, the policing minister, about a scenario in which a gay person returned to the UK after stowing away on a refugee flight to Rwanda.
“Would they be allowed to stay in the UK,” she asked.
Philp replied: “The point about the Illegal Migration Act, it’s designed for people coming from safe countries.”
Burley said: “You say Rwanda is a safe country, otherwise we wouldn’t be deporting people there.”
Philp responded: “And actually the UN say they are as well.”
But Burley hit back: “Not if you’re gay.”
A clearly-irritated Philp said: “Let me finish the point. The [United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees] themselves take people to Rwanda under refugee resettlement schemes. The UNHCR think Rwanda is safe because they use it themeslves.”
Referring to Braverman’s speech, Burley said: “The home secretary is expected to say ’we will not be able to sustain an asylum system if, in effect, simply being gay or a woman and fearful of discrimination in your own country of origin is sufficient to qualify for protection.”
Philp said: “The test is whether someone is being persecuted and if someone is being persecuted and if someone has come here directly from a place of danger ... then of course their claim should be heard.”
Braverman, who will deliver her speech in Washington, will say that under the current asylum rules, the definition of”persecution” is often watered down to mean “discrimination”.
She will say: “The status quo, where people are able to travel through multiple safe countries, and even reside in safe countries for years, while they pick their preferred destination to claim asylum, is absurd and unsustainable.
“Nobody entering the UK by boat from France is fleeing imminent peril. None of them have ‘good cause’ for illegal entry.
“The vast majority have passed through multiple safe countries, and in some instances have resided in safe countries for several years. In this sense, there is an argument that they should cease to be treated as refugees when considering the legitimacy of their onward movement.”
Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said: “The home secretary has given up on fixing the Tories’ asylum chaos at home so now she’s resorting to grandstanding abroad and looking for anyone else to blame.”