The Shadow Foreign Secretary has called for the Home Secretary to resign over the Windrush debacle that has been dominating the newspaper headlines over the past week. The government has u-turned and apologised after threatening to deport Caribbean migrants who could not provide proof of their decades of residence in the UK, with some of those affected having been refused jobs and access to healthcare as a result. To add insult to injury, it was revealed that the Home Office had destroyed the landing cards for immigrants who arrived aboard HMT Empire Windrush, thereby removing a vital source of documentation. The government has since said that it will provide compensation ‘where appropriate’. However, Thornberry told Nick Robinson (who was standing in for Andrew Marr) that the government’s response didn’t go far enough:
— BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) April 22, 2018
ET: We think that if you’re a politician in charge of a department, and the department does its job as badly as the Home Office has clearly been doing, then you should resign. That’s the way it always used to be. And how much worse can it get? People have died, people have lost their jobs, they have lost their futures, and for people who have been working in the National Health Service all their lives, suddenly they lose their jobs and they’re not even entitled to use the National Health Service. It could not be worse, and yet the Home Secretary thinks ‘I can apologise and it will be alright’. Well, it won’t be.
NR: Amber Rudd must quit?
ET: I really think she should quit.
When Robinson asked her if she was ashamed about the amount of anti-Semitic abuse within the Labour party, Thornberry said ‘Of course I am, I am sickened by it. I am fed up with it… I spoke to somebody last weekend and I was really shocked… I had to make it clear that actually that was not acceptable’. Robinson also pressed her on her recent Question Time appearance and asked her if she worried about being seen as giving Vladimir Putin the benefit of the doubt. Thornberry responded ‘Well, we don’t, so I don’t’.
David Gauke – It is right that we have apologised
The Justice Secretary also joined Nick Robinson and defended the government’s immigration policy, though he conceded that the government had made a mistake regarding the Windrush generation. In contrast to Emily Thornberry, he expressed his full confidence in Amber Rudd and insisted that the government’s overall approach to immigration was the right one:
"I think it is right that both the Home Secretary and the Prime Minister have apologised for this"
— The Andrew Marr Show (@MarrShow) April 22, 2018
NR: Shouldn’t Theresa May [and] Amber Rudd… quit and not just apologise?
DG: I think it is right that both the Home Secretary and the Prime Minister have apologised for this… We’ve got a new team in place, we’ve got a hotline that is available to contact. Home Office officials are working with the individuals who have been affected on this, helping to ensure they have got the evidence that they need so that are not in any way adversely affected. And I think that is the right approach…
NR: The Home Secretary should not quit? You are backing her to stay in her job?
DG: Absolutely, because when it comes down to it, the central policy is right but clearly there have been very significant failures in terms of how this has been implemented, and it’s right that we address that.
When asked about a likely upcoming vote in the Commons aiming to keep the UK within a customs union with the EU, Gauke replied ‘The job of those of us in government is to persuade Parliament that the route we’re going for – leaving the customs union, but ensuring that we don’t put in place unnecessary barriers to our trade with the European Union – [that] we can make that case to Parliament. I think we can win that case’.
Dawn Butler – Theresa May’s policies are ‘institutionally racist’
Going one further than many of her colleagues, the Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities has accused Theresa May and her government of ‘institutional’ racism. Dawn Butler told Niall Paterson that contrition was ‘not good enough’ and called on the Prime Minister to ‘reconsider her position’:
Dawn Butler says Theresa May could be accused of racism pic.twitter.com/AxMOzUE1HS
— Sunday with Paterson (@RidgeOnSunday) April 22, 2018
NP: Could Theresa May herself be accused of racism?
DB: Yes. She is the leader presiding over legislation that is discriminating against a whole group of people who came from the Commonwealth, who suffered racism when they came over, the ‘no blacks, no Irish, no dogs’, and now they’re having to relive that trauma all over again because of Theresa May. She’s not going to get let off the hook on this. And this has to be redressed as quickly as possible. Just saying stuff isn’t good enough. I need to see action and I need to see action quickly.
NP: I just want to be absolutely clear here. You are saying that Theresa May herself, her position is untenable and that she is racist?
DB: In my own personal opinion, and I’m speaking as myself as Dawn Butler, the daughter of Jamaican parents, I’m saying that Theresa May has presided over racist legislation that has discriminated against a whole generation of people from the Commonwealth. Her policies that she has implemented have disproportionately affected people from the Commonwealth and people of colour and therefore if you look at what institutional racism is, that’s what her policies are currently delivering. Theresa May has to not only reconsider her position but she has to reconsider her policies. And an apology is not good enough.
Butler also disparaged the government’s helpline as inadequate, stating ‘I understand that this task force is made up of inexperienced people who work in a telephone call centre. That is inappropriate’.
Baroness Warsi – ‘Go Home’ vans were appalling
Theresa May has been condemned over a separate issue from her time as Home Secretary during the coalition government. Former Cabinet minister Sayeeda Warsi has slammed May’s sanctioning of the now notorious vans which were hired to drive around six London boroughs requesting that illegal immigrants leave the UK immediately or face arrest. Warsi, who served as Faith and Communities minister at the time, told Robert Peston that the vans were not to her taste:
"I was in Government… so the strongest words I was able to use in the public domain at the time were that it wasn’t Theresa May’s finest hour. Privately I was appalled." @SayeedaWarsi on the Go Home vans. #Peston pic.twitter.com/KdEB1OpexZ
— Peston on Sunday (@pestononsunday) April 22, 2018
RP: When you saw the van campaign… how did you feel as a member of that government?
SW: It was not Theresa May’s finest moment… Privately I was appalled. This sense of going home like I said, my parents’ generation lived with this fear. I remember growing up in the 1970s when Mum and Dad would often [say] ‘Well, there will come a time when we will be asked to leave’… and I would just simply laugh at this suggestion. I said, certainly in the 1980s, ‘We’re moving in the right direction, this is something that couldn’t even possibly be part of our political rhetoric’. And I think, year after year, certainly in the last few years, I’m shocked at the kind of things I thought would never reappear in British politics has started to do so. And that’s where we all have a responsibility.
Warsi added: ‘I think what happened unfortunately during those [coalition] years and has continued is that we had an unhealthy obsession with numbers… We were wedded to unrealistic targets which we still haven’t met, unfortunately, a decade on’. Warsi also gave her support for taking students out of the immigration figures, arguing that it ‘makes no sense’ to continue doing so.
Maureen Lipman – Jeremy Corbyn should come and see my play
And finally, the actress Maureen Lipman has invited Jeremy Corbyn to come and see her acting in the play ‘The Best Man’ and promised to discuss with him afterwards what can be done about the tide of anti-Semitic abuse that has been levelled against Labour MPs and party activists in recent years. Lipman denied the suggestion that she had called Corbyn an anti-Semite, but castigated his handling of the problem within the party and urged him to get to grips with it:
— Peston on Sunday (@pestononsunday) April 22, 2018
RP: You have not exactly pulled your punches with Corbyn. You haven’t just said he’s soft on anti-Semitism…
ML: I want Jeremy to come and see the show, because I think he’d really love it… I’ll take him to Joe Allen’s afterwards and we’ll thrash out what can be done. Never mind what’s been done, because it’s all rubbish as we know. [We’re] sitting here on television in 2018 talking about racism in this country. I attended a rally, [and] what I think I said was… ‘It’s possible to be anti-racist and anti-Semitic’. If you believe in conspiracy theories – if you believe that all Jews are Zionists and therefore must be hated, if you believe all Jews are capitalists… if you believe that all Jews are bankers and bankers are horrible people, then it’s terrible easy to jump on that bandwagon that we are the villains. It’s been done for 2000 years.
She went on: ‘We don’t know with Jeremy whether he’s mischievous or naughty, provocative or he is doing it cynically’. When Peston asked if Jeremy Corbyn had prompted her to vote for the Conservatives, Lipman replied ‘I’m getting there. I can’t be a Labour supporter any more. I’m a socialist in my heart… [but] how can I support this lot?’