Theresa May, both as home secretary and prime minister, pushed for the UK to become a global leader in the international struggle against contemporary forms of slavery. Her vision was always a blurred one, in which she somehow reconciled championing the 2015 Modern Slavery Act alongside prosecuting victims of human trafficking for the crime of “illegal working”. But at least she articulated an ambition to make the UK something better.
That ambition is long gone. Instead, the UK now has government ministers who revel in their contempt for human rights, including anti-slavery protections. The home secretary, Suella Braverman, has repeatedly and groundlessly asserted that migrants are trying to “game the system” by claiming to have been trafficked. She is doing her best to reframe slavery as an immigration matter, and NGOs fear that the government’s protection responsibilities will be neglected in favour of establishing a hard-faced and xenophobic deportation policy.
This affront to national and international law has attracted criticism from the United States, the United Nations, and even the UK’s Office for Statistics Regulation….