Home Secretary Amber Rudd should step down over the “lives ruined” by the Windrush scandal, Diane Abbott has said.
The shadow home secretary hit out at her direct opponent saying she should “consider her position” as it emerged that thousands of Caribbean immigrants risk deportation because they lack the necessary documentation needed as part of PM Theresa May’s “hostile environment” policies.
“I think she needs to consider her position. There are so many things that have gone wrong,” Abbott said of Rudd. “She has information about who was deported and who was in detention and she needs to make that information public,” she added, according to the Guardian.
Abbott, along with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, was one of only six Labour MPs to vote against the 2014 Immigration Act, which contains some of the restrictive policies which led to the Windrush scandal.
“This has caused so much misery and has ruined so many people’s lives – and there is so much unity in the House of Commons on both sides of the chamber about this subject – she needs to consider her position,” the Shadow Home Secretary said.
People from the Windrush generation arrived in the UK from African and Caribbean countries between 1948 and 1971. They were allowed in as part of Commonwealth free movement regulations. Despite the 1971 Immigration Act giving indefinite leave to remain to Commonwealth citizens already living in the UK, they are now being denied access to healthcare and threatened with deportation because they have no proof of legal status, proof they never thought they needed.
Jurior Green is among those who has suffered because of the Home Office’s blunder. He broke down in tears on Tuesday as he told the BBC he had to miss his mother’s funeral because he was denied entry back into the UK – despite him claiming he has lived in the UK for 60 years.
He had flown to Jamaica to see his dying mother, before trying to fly back to Britain but was barred from boarding the flight as his visa was not recognized. Stranded in Jamaica, he missed his mother’s funeral as her body was repatriated to the UK.
Rudd apologized over the “appalling” actions of her own department, saying the Home Office may have “lost sight of individuals” and become “too concerned with policy.”
The PM followed suit, saying “we are genuinely sorry for any anxiety that has been caused,” before reiterating in parliament on Wednesday that there would be a dedicated team of officials working to help the Windrush community prove they have a right to stay. She promised cases would be solved within two weeks of evidence being provided.
It comes as the Tory government is under fire for reportedly discarding thousands of the Windrush generation’s landing cards in 2010 despite civil servants warning it could make it harder to check the right to remain of Commonwealth citizens from older generations.
When Corbyn asked May on Wednesday if she had “signed off” the shredding, the Tory leader hit back saying: “The decision was taken in 2009. As I seem to recall, in 2009, it was a Labour home secretary who was in position.” The claim has led to accusations that May was misleading parliament, as no Labour home secretary was involved in the decision. No. 10 conceded this but added that the PM was simply stating facts.
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