‘Project Vanity’: Braverman under fire for taking only right-wing press to Rwanda | Refugees
Outrage over the unusual level of scrutiny imposed on media coverage of the interior minister’s trip to Rwanda grew over the weekend during Suella Braverman’s first hours in the country.
Prominent names including newscasters, academics and opposition MPs expressed shock at what they saw as partisan reporting on the trip from right-wing news outlets invited to join the trip . The Guardian, BBC, Mirror, Independent and i Newspaper have been banned.
Braverman and his Home Office team flew out on Friday to promote the government’s plan to deport asylum seekers to the African country under a controversial deal signed last April by his predecessor, Priti Patel. No one has been relocated to the country so far as the plan faces legal challenges.
Braverman appeared in a series of photo ops, laughing with a group of children and posing outside an accommodation block meant to house asylum seekers. In comments that alarmed rights activists, she described the homes as “really beautiful, high quality, welcoming”.
“I like your interior designer,” she added. “I need advice myself.”
The Telegraph, whose reporter was one of the few right-wing outlets chosen by the Home Office to join the trip, wrote enthusiastically about the accommodation. “The homes provide families with off-street parking, fiber optic broadband, front and rear gardens, eco-design that also combats moisture and gases rising from the ground, and decor which wouldn’t look out of place in a British townhouse.”
Jon Sopel, the BBC’s former North American editor, told the Observer that the row over who was allowed to cover the trip, regardless of leftist or liberal outlets, immediately reminded him the pressure exerted on political reporters in the White House during Donald Trump’s presidency.
“Sounds familiar, that was my first thought,” said Sopel, now co-host of The News Agents topical podcast. “There was a period when several newspaper titles were not allowed to participate in press briefings. But the difference in America was that the Correspondents’ Association immediately flagged the First Amendment to the Constitution and it was not allowed.
While a small group of political reporters, or “pool”, is sometimes conventionally set up for travel where security concerns are paramount, it is generally understood that all information will be shared with the widest range of teams. national reporting.
Under Boris Johnson’s tenure as Prime Minister, there have been other alleged attempts to control journalists and filter questions at briefings and press conferences.
Clive Myrie, the BBC news presenter, retweeted the Guardian’s critical account of the trip, while other British journalists expressed surprise that certified journalists were willing to go through the vetting process. “It’s not very collegial,” a former newspaper editor said on Saturday.
Michela Wrong, a British journalist and author of a recent book on Rwanda, Do Not Disturb: The Story of Political Murder and an African Regime Gone Wrong, said the timing of Braverman’s visit was “grotesque”.
“Rwanda and the DRC are on the brink of total war. The M23 guerrilla group, a Rwandan proxy, has sent 600,000 to 800,000 Congolese villagers fleeing their homes and Braverman happily validates the African leader widely credited with destabilizing Africa’s Great Lakes.
“Britain should be discussing sanctions on Rwanda – that’s the only message Kagame is responding to – rather than planning to send migrants there.”
Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper was among political opponents who pointed out that time spent in Rwanda publicizing conservative politics was publicly funded. She added: “Suella Braverman has still not been clear on how many people Rwanda will actually host in practice or the total cost to the UK taxpayer.
‘The Home Secretary has already issued Rwandan checks for at least £140million, although she has admitted the scheme is failing and the Home Office says it poses a high risk of fraud . Instead of expensive PR stunts, she should invest that money in chasing down smuggling gangs to stop dangerous boat crossings.
Lib Dem leader Ed Davey said the trip was “an expensive distraction from the immoral and unworkable Braverman Bill”. He added, “Suella Braverman is wasting taxpayers’ money flaunting the Conservative Party’s latest vainglorious scheme in Rwanda. Liberal Democrats will oppose this appalling anti-refugee law, which is nothing more than a criminal traffickers’ charter.