Suella Braverman and Yvette Cooper in the Commons.
Labour’s Yvette Cooper has criticised Suella Braverman’s “nonsense” after the home secretary claimed the backlog of people awaiting an initial decision on their asylum claim has reduced.
The shadow home secretary called on Braverman to withdraw the claim in the Commons – but the Tory cabinet minister declined to respond to the criticism.
Braverman made the initial claim when making a statement updating parliament on the government’s progress on its stated goals of reducing the number of small boats crossing the Channel, and finding alternative ways to house people who have arrived in the UK.
Braverman said: “The asylum initial decision backlog is down by 17,000, and we are on track to abolish all legacy cases by the end of this year, having doubled the number of asylum decision-makers over the last two years.”
'She said the asylum initial decision backlog is down by 17,000... the facts are the asylum initial decision backlog is up over 10,000, not down by 17,000'
Yvette Cooper urges Suella Braverman with withdraw a statement she made to MPs https://t.co/y4ArykgErDpic.twitter.com/XkcXylvPPD
— ITV News Politics (@ITVNewsPolitics) June 5, 2023
Making a point of order after the statement, Cooper said: “(Ms Braverman) said the asylum initial decision backlog is down by 17,000, whereas the Home Office official statistics say the asylum initial backlog is now over 170,000, up from 160,000 in December.
“So the facts are, the asylum initial decision backlog is up over 10,000, not down by 17,000.
“I know there was a lot of nonsense in what the home secretary said, sometimes it’s hard to know where to start, but this is about facts, the facts given to parliament.
“Will she now withdraw this incorrect statement that she has made because her facts are wrong?”
Deputy speaker Eleanor Laing asked the home secretary if she wished to say anything in response, but Braverman, who was sitting on the government front bench, shook her head.
Some 172,758 people were waiting for an initial decision on asylum applications at the end of March, up 57% from a year earlier and the highest figure since comparable records began in 2010, according to Home Office figures.