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Braverman ‘sees enemy of state’ behind every UK visa application, says business leader

 (PA)
(PA)

Home Secretary Suella Braverman “sees an enemy of the state” behind every visa application to Britain, a London business leader claimed on Monday in a scathing attack on her stance on immigration.

Richard Burge, Chief Executive of London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, tore into the Cabinet minister, after she gave a speech to the National Conservatism Conference in central London.

“The Home Office and Home Secretary seem to have no interest or commitment to the economic needs of our country,” he argued.

“Behind every visa application they see an enemy of the state. Until the Home Secretary changes her visa policy and her dysfunctional department is reformed, the Government’s vision of Global Britain will not be realised.”

During her speech, Ms Braverman fired a warning to Cabinet colleagues against relaxing immigration visa rules to boost economic growth.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has indicated he would be willing to welcome more migrants to plug staffing shortages in industries such as construction.

In March, he said that “people who voted for Brexit didn’t vote for no immigration” after relaxing immigration rules to allow construction workers to fill certain vacant roles.

But Ms Braverman insisted on Monday that, while it remained the Government’s priority to prevent “illegal migration”, they “must not lose sight of the importance of controlling legal migration as well”.

She said: “It’s not racist for anyone, ethnic minority or otherwise, to want to control our borders.

“I reject the left’s argument that it’s hypocritical for someone from an ethnic minority, like mine, to know these facts or to speak these truths.”

Ms Braverman, whose speech was interrupted twice by protesters from Extinction Rebellion, said that people who come to the UK “must not commit crimes” and “need to learn English and understand British social norms”.

Her parents “embraced British values”, she said, adding that “you cannot have immigration without integration”.

She said: “And if we lack the confidence to promote our culture, to defend our values and venerate our past, then we have nothing to integrate people into.”

Official figures released later this month are expected to show net migration of between 650,000 and 997,000, according to the PA news agency.

Downing Street insisted Ms Braverman’s comments on cutting net migration were in line with the Government’s approach.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “She continues to represent the UK Government views on all issues relating to the Home Office, as you would expect.”

The spokesman added: “We want to see employers make long-term investments in the UK domestic workforce instead of relying on overseas labour as part of building a high-wage and high-skilled economy and we are supporting those industries in doing that.”