Lies, Falsehoods and Misrepresentations from Boris Johnson to Rishi Sunak

‎”The best advice clearly would be for individuals to present to the UNHCR. The UK…works closely with the UNHCR and we already operate safe and legal routes in partnership with it. That safe and legal route is available today.”

Robert Jenrick, Immigration Minister, House of Commons

Facts

During a debate in the House of Commons, Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick advised that those fleeing Sudan for humanitarian reasons, and hoping to come to the UK through safe and legal routes, should  “present to the UNHCR”.  He added that these routes are “available today”.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman made a similar statement on Sky News earlier the same day. 

In response to both Jenrick and Braverman’s statements, the UNHCR issued a statement clarifying that “there is no mechanism through which refugees can approach UNHCR with the intention of seeking asylum in the UK. There is no asylum visa or ‘queue’ for the United Kingdom”.

There are no “safe and legal routes” for Sudanese asylum seekers into the UK. The UNHCR adds that whilst it is possible for them to recommend a Sudanese refugee be settled in the UK, this is only if they are under threat of persecution in the country they have fled to from Sudan. 

The statement continued that the resettlement option for at-risk refugees was “the rare exception – available to fewer than 1% of refugees worldwide”, that “there is no application process for resettlement – refugees at heightened risk are identified by the UNHCR” and that “the overwhelming majority of refugees have no access to such pathways to the UK.”

Full Fact asked the Home Office about Jenrick and Braverman’s comments and were told that Sudanese nationals who wish to come to the UK will require a valid UK visa. 

The fact-checking organisation concluded that “Robert Jenrick is not only wrong to suggest that Sudanese nationals fleeing their country should “present to the UNHCR,” but also that there is a safe and legal route “available today”.

Verdict

Robert Jenrick was misleading the House of Commons. According to the Ministerial Code,  “It is of paramount importance that Ministers give accurate and truthful information to Parliament, correcting any inadvertent error at the earliest opportunity.  Ministers who knowingly mislead Parliament will be expected to offer their resignation to the Prime Minister.” Robert Jenrick was misleading parliament in defiance of the Ministerial Code, in theory, a resignation offence.

We reached out to the Home Office which replied to the effect that this “is not something the Home Office would comment on.” We also reached out to Mr Jenrick’s parliamentary office, but received no reply.

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