The Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, this week described small boat crossings in the English Channel as an “invasion”. She is also under intensifying criticism for repeated security breaches and her department’s handling of asylum seeker accommodation. Immigration statistics compiled by Oxford University’s Migration Observatory, however, suggest that a so-called invasion on Britain’s southern coastline is largely imagined.
In 2021, there were just eight asylum applicants for every 10,000 people resident in the UK, according to the data. This is less than half of all applications made in France and Germany respectively last year, while Cyprus received the highest number of asylum applications according to the metric.
Braverman’s comments came a day after a 66-year-old man threw petrol bombs at a Border Force immigration centre in Dover before killing himself. This followed a report from last week in which a man believed to be an asylum seeker was stabbed in west London. A 15-year-old boy has since been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder.
Charity groups have condemned the Home Secretary’s comments because of fears that politicians' use of such language might embolden far-right groups to carry out violent attacks against asylum seekers in the UK. “Refugees are escaping from conflicts – they know what being invaded feels like. We are lucky that many of us do not,” the aid group Care4Calais tweeted. “To suggest they are committing an act of war when that is what they are fleeing is indefensible.”
[See also: Inside the UK hotel housing 150 refugees]