Does Britain have to be able to control its borders? The answer, from left and right, is yes to both.

But how you do it is another matter. The movement of people is a complex issue, driven by push and pull factors. You can approach it soberly, looking for solutions that are sustainable and fair to both migrants and host populations; or you can posture about, talking tough, joining an ignoble line of politicians who have mischaracterised migration and refugees for their own ends.

Suella Braverman, contemptibly, has gone for option two.

If you believed the divisive rhetoric from the grandstanding Home Secretary, you would imagine there’s a Godzilla flotilla of small boats making a beeline for British shores, packed with gay people and women who can’t take a bit of prejudice, and that the UN Convention on Refugees is making it powerless for the sovereign British government to do a bally thing about it.

It's an absurd picture, but what else would you expect from the most hard-right member of this right-wing cabinet?

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Ms Braverman is of course playing into real and widely held concerns about irregular migration. Most people would agree that the level of migration in recent years has been, as Ms Braverman put it, “too much, too quick” and that we need to give more thought to the impact on social cohesion.

But any chance she had of making a powerful intervention that could begin a serious international conversation was quickly jettisoned as she laid out a view of the problem that she had forced through a distorting lens.

It is no accident that she chose this week, just days before the Conservative Party conference, to set out her supposed solution.

It’s just a pity she doesn’t seem to want to understand the problem.

Her central premise is that the UN Convention on Refugees needs to be rethought completely because individuals like gay people and women are using it to gain refugee status when they are facing not persecution but discrimination; that in effect, the threshold for claiming asylum has been lowered.

This is strongly contested. The Refugee Council says there’s “no evidence” that Home Office decision-makers are replacing well-founded fear of persecution with discrimination.

But the Home Secretary does not stop there. She suggests that 780m people “could” claim asylum under the UN definition, drawing on the calculations by former Downing Street chief of staff Nick Timothy at the right-wing Centre for Policy Studies that 780m people could possibly maybe seek asylum if they wanted to.

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So where are they then? Patently just because people could claim asylum doesn’t mean they do. There are certain reasons why packing your entire life into a hold-all, saying goodbye to everyone and everything you’ve ever known, possibly for good, and heading off on an often dangerous journey to an unknown future doesn’t appeal to people.

According to the UN, there are 110m displaced people globally – nowhere near 780m – and three fifths, 62.5m, are internally displaced inside their own country. At the end of last year, there were 35.3m refugees outside their own countries. The UN has explicitly refuted the notion that they are all heading for the rich West: the overwhelming majority are in neighbouring nations to their own, and in low and middle income countries.

What’s more, the BBC highlighted Home Office figures showing that less than two per cent of those making an asylum claim last year included sexual orientation as part of their claim and most came from countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nigeria where they faced prison sentences or even death for being gay – actual persecution, then, not “discrimination”.

Elton John and his husband David Furnish were among many who reacted with shock to Ms Braverman’s comments, saying: “Dismissing the very real danger LGBTQ+ communities face risks further legitimising hate and violence against them.”

Ms Braverman is unlikely to care much. She even mused that Western culture faced an existential threat from migration, a dangerously provactive refrain of hard-right politicians for decades. Have they not noticed that our culture is thriving?

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There were laughable omissions in her speech. You would not know that the Home Secretary is presiding over a record backlog in processing asylum claims or that her own party has been in power for the last 13 years as that backlog has grown. Nor would you know that her party’s defining policy, Brexit, ended a migrant returns agreement with other EU countries, which Rishi Sunak has so far failed to reinstate.

Attacking the refugee convention doesn’t help with any of that, but it is a convenient distraction from serial failure.

So what’s going on? Certainly Tory strategists intend to make a hard-line position on immigration an electoral dividing line. It’s another staging post in the Tories’ seemingly inexorable slide towards the outer edge of the political spectrum.

The Home Secretary herself, though, is surely taking a longer view. She anticipates yet another Tory leadership election and fancies the top job for herself. God forbid.

So does this skewer Labour? Hardly. It will certainly appeal to some, but many others will want a more balanced, compassionate approach. Labour end up looking like the sensible ones - again.

Britain can do much to help itself out of the hole the Tories have dug over immigration, without trashing its decades-old commitments to refugees. Even Braverman herself acknowledges that bilateral action between countries can be highly effective.

One is left with the impression that Suella Braverman wants to use Britain’s distance from troubled lands and lack of land borders, as a means to avoid Britain playing its part in taking people in. As the UN High Commission on Refugees notes, the UK must tackle its backlog, so those without a legal basis to remain can be swiftly returned, but there must be “responsibility sharing” for refugees between nations.

We need to address the increase in irregular migration internationally, but an underperforming, hard-right politician who trains her fire on gay people and women in the asylum system, must never be allowed to pretend she has the answers.