Theresa May seeks to distance herself from Windrush row after Rudd departure

Sean Reid
May 4, 2018

The appointment of Sajid Javid as British home secretary, following the resignation of Amber Rudd on Sunday night, will strengthen the hard Brexiteers at senior levels in the cabinet and leave prime minister Theresa May still more isolated at a crucial point in the talks on the UK's departure from the EU.

A rapid riser in the government, Mr Javid's first task was to deal with the fallout from the Windrush scandal - moves to deport legal but undocumented elderly Caribbean immigrants.

In Rudd, Prime Minister May lost a close ally in the Cabinet and said she was "very sorry" to see her go, adding: "I think she can look back with pride as home secretary".

Rudd said she took "full responsibility" for the fact that she was not aware of "information provided to (her) office which makes mention of targets".

Responding to her comments, Theresa May said she was "pleased" to be given the opportunity to thank Mrs Rudd for "the work she did as Home Secretary".

May and Rudd apologised for the treatment of the Windrush generation during the recent Commonwealth summit attended by leaders from Caribbean countries, among others.

Her comments were compromised by a leaked Home Office memo that called for a target of 2,800 deportations through 2018, as well as a "10 percent increased performance on enforced returns, which we promised the home secretary earlier this year". "Unless and until the prime minister announces the abandonment of the form of hostile environment policy which she instituted, and demonstrates that that is the case, then we should all understand that the policy remains in place".

The government has been struggling to explain why some descendants of the "Windrush generation", invited to Britain to plug labour shortfalls between 1948 and 1971, have been denied basic rights and have been incorrectly labelled as illegal immigrants.

Speaking at the debate, Javid said this would involve "independent oversight and challenge to a lessons-learned review already under way in my department".

In her resignation letter, Rudd admitted that sometimes people with a legal right to be in Britain had not been treated "fairly and humanely". "These measures essentially criminalized the descendants of the Windrush generation, so what we're saying is that the inequality and discrimination in that law needs to be changed", Doyle told Sputnik.

Gove and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who were at the forefront of the campaign for Britain to leave the European Union, praised Rudd following her resignation.

This had seemed to contradict what Rudd had said in Parliament last week, when she told a Commons committee that the government did NOT have removal targets.

Rudd was the fifth person to quit the cabinet since the June 2017 snap general election, called by May but which cost the Conservatives their majority in parliament.

The latest resignation comes just days before local council elections in Britain, due to be held on May 3, during which the Opposition parties will hope to capitalise on some of the upheaval in government.

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