The. home secretary has repeatedly triggered widespread outrage over the last year with her language around asylum seekers and migrants – especially when she compared people arriving at UK shores to an “invasion”.
And this week, she went to Washington DC and called for a change in the way we define refugees, and said “multiculturalism has failed”.
When the home secretary’s comments were mentioned during BBC Question Time this week, the chief executive of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, Henri Murison, quickly challenged the home secretary’s divisive rhetoric.
“It’s ironic isn’t it, if you’re the home secretary, and you go abroad to give a speech that basically trashes your own government’s record on something,” he laughed.
The Question Time guest continued: “It would be wrong for a business person, and someone who represents business in the North of England, not to say that actually, business people want immigration in a managed way.”
According to Statista, there were close to a million vacancies in the UK in the three months to August this year.
Data from January 2023 also shows that approximately one in four UK businesses in the accommodation and food services were struggling with a staff shortage at that time.
Murson also noted: “We shouldn’t count students as an immigration target, as the government has – they count students in those numbers.
“But they come here and then go home again.
“That not migration as far as I’m concerned. And they’re not putting a strain on housing stock,” he said, noting that students who come from overseas are living in purpose-built accommodation.
It’s worth noting the government has previously explained students cannot be removed from demographic estimates because “net migration is an objective demographic quantity, which represents the part of population change that is due to migration”.
Speaking from Sale, in Greater Manchester, Murison also touched on the housing crisis after Braverman suggested services and accommodation in the UK were overstretched due to migration.
He claimed: “The reflection is that if you want to build more houses, I am afraid to say that construction workers are one of those things we could really do with, actually.”
Murison then suggested that “we get into a massive confusion and a muddle” between what we need for legal migration and the legitimate challenges around the current asylum system.
“The two just get completely confused,” the businessman said. “And the home secretary is deliberately that, because she wants you to feel that this is people breaking the rules, that migrants are the people not playing by the rules.”
However, he pointed out: “The vast majority are here legally.
“Yet, we behave as if these people are not playing the rules – they are.”
Moving onto Braverman’s claim that “multiculturalism has failed,” he added that he is “immensely proud” that his home city of Bradford is so diverse.
“I find it really upsetting that this issue is used in the way that it is to try and divide people,” Murison claimed. “You’ve got to have a meaningful and sensible debate.
“Suella Braverman has gone after students, she’s gone after universities, she’s gone after lots of groups in British society, that she thinks are easy targets where she can score a quick victory.”
He said diversity around ethnicity and origins, or their sexual orientation, means everyone should “be absolutely proud of the sort of city Manchester is”.
He concluded: “It is a global city and it has a population to match. And that’s just what it should be like!”