SUELLA Braverman has conceded that women trafficked into the UK for sexual exploitation could be deported under measures to tackle illegal migration.

The Home Secretary said there are no “blanket exclusions” but argued they could receive protection by co-operating with a police investigation or showing hard evidence of modern slavery.

Former prime minister Theresa May has been among the Conservative critics warning the Illegal Migration Bill to “stop the boats” could harm efforts to tackle human trafficking.

The Home Secretary said victims “could claim an exemption”, but she stressed the need to tackle people “claiming to be victims of modern slavery when they patently are not” to thwart removal from the UK under the legislation.

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Braverman was challenged at the Home Affairs Committee by its chair, Dame Diana Johnson, over whether exploited women could still be arrested and removed.

The Cabinet minister said: “We take our commitments to modern slavery very seriously. We are not including blanket exclusions in our legislation.”

She insisted the Government has “struck the right balance” and that “genuine victims of modern slavery can still put in a claim”.

Braverman said they can receive protection if there is “compelling evidence for their reasonable grounds” or if “they are part of a police investigation”.

Dame Diana, a Labour MP, warned: “It’s quite clear that particularly victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation find it very difficult to come forward.”

Braverman was challenged on the promise to tackle the backlog of asylum cases, insisting the “legacy” backlog predating June last year has fallen by around 17,000 claims.

But she said the overall numbers are rising and the total backlog is “absolutely impossible to ever get that number down to zero” because the “boats keep coming”.

Dame Diana said: “It seems to me you have a backlog of backlogs now, you’re just building backlogs on backlogs.”

Braverman replied: “No I wouldn’t say that, I would say we’ve got a caseload of cases.”