Should Theresa May Resign Over The Windrush Scandal?

Following the departure of Home Secretary Amber Rudd, Theresa May faces calls to resign for her role in the wrongful deportation of British citizens.

On Sunday evening the Home Secretary Amber Rudd handed in her resignation following the ‘Windrush Scandal’ in which British citizens were wrongly deported as the result of a ‘hostile environment’ immigration policy.

Rudd faced pressure to resign following an investigation by Guardian journalist Amelia Gentlemen that revealed members of the Windrush generation had lost their jobs, access to healthcare and, in some cases, had been deported, as a result of the Home Office’s hardline approach to illegal immigration.

These calls intensified when it was revealed over the weekend that Rudd was aware of localised deportation targets, having previously denied such knowledge in parliament. In a leaked letter to May, she spoke of ‘ambitious but deliverable’ targets for removal of illegal immigrants.

The so-called ‘hostile environment’ policy was implemented by Theresa May in 2013 during her reign as Home Secretary. Shortly before its launch, she said, “Most people will say it can’t be fair for people who have no right to be here in the UK to continue to exist as everybody else does”. She added, “We are going to be changing that because we don’t think that is fair.”

But should Rudd take the hit for the continuation of a policy originally introduced by May, or is the Prime Minister equally at fault?

Rudd faced criticism for her handling of the Windrush scandal. Photo by Department of Energy and Climate Change

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Theresa May was quick to state that Rudd’s resignation was not a result of Windrush, but was ‘for inadvertently misleading the Home Affairs Select Committee’. Since the scandal broke, the Prime Minister has shown no indication of stepping down.

Ministers have jumped to the defence of the Prime Minister, including transport secretary, Chris Grayling, who told Sky News that “This is about sorting out a problem.”

Grayling went on to say that, “It’s a mistake, the government’s apologised, the prime minister has apologised, the former home secretary apologised for it. That isn’t the issue that led to her resignation. The issue is about her inadvertently misleading the house in good faith.”

May looks set to continue implementing the ‘hostile environment’ policy that she says offers a ‘firm but fair’ approach to illegal immigration. Echoing her remarks before its 2013 rollout, May has reiterated the motivation behind the policy.

“It isn’t fair that people who work hard day-in-day-out, who contribute to this country, who put into the life of this country, are seeing people who are here illegally accessing services in the same way,”

“Up and down this country, people want to ensure that the government is taking action against those people who are here in this country illegally”

Theresa May now faces calls to resign. Photo by Arno Mikkor

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It has been suggested that Theresa May – as the architect for the current conservative immigration policy – should resign over Windrush scandal. As the recipient of Amber Rudd’s letter detailing immigration targets, she was also aware of the Home Office’s plan of increasing the number of deportations by 10%.

During an emergency hearing last week called by Shadow Home Secretary Dianne Abbott, Rudd said that “I have never agreed there should be specific removal targets and I would never support a policy that puts targets ahead of people”. It was however revealed over the weekend that Rudd was aware of targets and detailed as such in a letter to Theresa May

The localised deportation targets were likely to affect ‘low hanging fruit’ – people who were in the country legally but did not have the correct documentation – such as the Windrush generation.

Speaking to the BBC, Dianne Abbott spoke of the Prime Minister’s culpability, “We all need to turn our attention to Theresa May because it was in her tenure as home secretary that many of the worst aspects of the so-called hostile climate were pushed through.”

She added that “We want to talk to her about the aspects of the so-called hostile environment which she was responsible for and led to the Windrush fiasco”

Sajid Javid, a man who has supported May’s ‘hostile environment’ every step of the way, has been appointed the new Home Secretary. May herself holds on for now, but she will face increased scrutiny over the coming weeks.

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