Lies, Falsehoods and Misrepresentations from Boris Johnson to Rishi Sunak

‎”There are 100 million people displaced around the world, and likely billions more eager to come here if possible.”

Suella Braverman, Home Secretary, Daily Mail

Facts

Introducing the government’s new Illegal Migration Bill on 7 March, Braverman claimed that 100 million people around the world “could qualify for protection” under current UK laws, and that “they are coming here”.

On 8 March she repeated this claim in the Daily Mail, adding that there are “likely billions more eager to come here if possible”.

Braverman’s claim about 100 million people is based on the UNHCR estimate that, as of May 2022, the number of people forcibly displaced worldwide had exceeded 100 million people. 

The majority of people included in the 100 million figure – around 60 million – are internally displaced, meaning they have not left their country. 

Also included in the 100 million figure are 26.7 million refugees under the UNHCR’s mandate, 4.9 million asylum seekers, 5.3 million other people in need of international protection, and a further 5.8 million Palestinian refugees not included under the UNHCR’s mandate. 

When Full Fact asked the UNHCR about Braverman’s comments, they were told that the majority of forcibly displaced people remain within their own country, while an estimated 69% of refugees and asylum seekers who do leave their country stay in countries which neighbour their own.

Alistair Carmichael, MP, wrote to the UK Statistics Authority (UKSA), with concerns over the accuracy of Braverman’s comments. Sir Robert Chote, Chair of UKSA,  responded stating that 100 million “is not an estimate of either the number of people who would qualify for asylum if they were to reach the UK or of the number of displaced people likely to seek asylum in the UK.”

In 2022, the UK received around 75,000 asylum applications relating to 89,000 individuals. 

Verdict

There is no data to suggest that 100 million people, or even the majority of those defined as “forcibly displaced” by the UN, are attempting to reach the UK. The figure Braverman cites is based on the UNHCR estimate of the global number of forcibly displaced people.  The majority of these people remain in their own countries, and most refugees stay in neighbouring countries. 

It’s not clear how many of the 100 million would be granted asylum or other protection in the UK if they were to apply. In 2022, the UK only received asylum applications for around 90,000 individuals. 

This is another example of inflammatory, scaremongering rhetoric from the Home Secretary. 

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 Suella Braverman’s parliamentary office, but received no reply.

Client Journalism: How it WorksSuella Braverman first made her false and inflammatory statement on the floor of the House of Commons on 7 March 2023.

The following day she published a column for the Daily Mail repeating the claim, as outlined above. Only this time Suella Braverman raised the stakes by warning that “billions” rather than “100 million” were eager to come to Britain. 

This conforms to the pattern that we have noted often on this website: client journalists and newspapers amplifying, exaggerating  and giving extra credibility to lies and fabrications uttered by government ministers.

We wrote to the Daily Mail showing the above commentary and offering them the chance to respond. As of yet, we have received no reply.

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