Ministers have been caught so badly on the hop in the row about the Windrush generation that when Amber Rudd came to the Commons today, she was forced not only to tell MPs that her own department wasn’t working properly, but also to admit that she didn’t know how many people had been deported.
The Home Secretary had been summoned by an Urgent Question from David Lammy. The Labour MP was seething with fury as he spoke, shouting that this situation was a “national disgrace”. He demanded to know details of those who had been deported, or lost access to benefits, healthcare, or their jobs.
Rudd had also faced questions on the matter at Home Office questions, and had told Anna Soubry that she was making a ‘fair point’ about the treatment of these Britons. She announced a dedicated team to help those affected gather the necessary documentation to prove their residency, and told MPs that “the way some of them have been treated is wrong and I am sorry”. She also admitted during that session that she needed to seek information from the High Commissioners when she met them this week about how many people had been wrongly deported as she wasn’t aware of any. This was rather odd, given Caroline Nokes had said only earlier today that while she didn’t know the numbers, some people may already have been deported.
What was stranger was that the Home Secretary used her responses to the Urgent Question to criticise her own department. The Home Office had, she said, “become too concerned with policy and strategy”, and had forgotten the individual people involved in the cases it dealt with.
This is pretty strong criticism from a serving Secretary of State, even more so given that Rudd is following the policies of her predecessor, one Theresa May. Rudd also faced criticism aplenty from MPs about her department’s ‘hostile environment’ policy, which was also introduced by May. She refused to give any hint that this policy would be dropped, of course, but today has shown the folly of creating such policies with catchy names.