K E Y P O I N T S
- Amber Rudd has resigned as home secretary amid the Windrush scandal.
- The crisis has seen migrants who came to the UK after World War II and have a legal right to live here wrongly threatened with deportation by the Home Office.
- As pressure grew on Rudd, she claimed on Wednesday the Home Office did not have targets for the number of people who should be deported from the UK.
- On Thursday morning it was revealed immigration officials in her department had been given targets.
- Rudd told MPs in the Commons later that day she had not known about the them.
- But on Friday afternoon a leaked Home Office memo revealed she had been told about them in 2017.
- Rudd maintained she was not aware of ‘specific removal targets’
- But a in a leaked letter she sent to Theresa May in January 2017 she told the prime minister of her target to increase deportations by 10%.
- Also on Sunday former immigration minister Brandon Lewis revealed Rudd was aware the Home Office had ‘overall targets’ for deportations.
- Rudd had also added to the sense of chaos by telling reporters in Westminster on Thursday the UK may not leave the customs union after Brexit - a direct contradiction May’s official position.
S N A P V E R D I C T
From HuffPost UK’s Paul Waugh:
Amber Rudd was only elected an MP in 2010, yet was made a Cabinet minister just five years later and Home Secretary twelve months after that. Her meteoric rise has been due three factors: her closeness to the right bosses (first Osborne, then Cameron, then May), her clear ability in mastering a brief and a refreshing outsider’s candour that she brought to Westminster.
But all three have been reversed spectacularly during the Windrush scandal. She distanced herself from May, failed to get a grip over the deportation policy impacts on innocent residents and – what did for her in the end - looked like a dissembling insider.
Today’s last line of defence, that Rudd had an ‘aim’ and ‘ambition’ to increase deportations, rather than a ‘target’, was barely credible and undermined anyway by the Guardian’s latest leak.
It wasn’t meant to be this way. Rudd’s personability and good humour, as well as a lack of fear in taking on heavyweights like Boris Johnson, meant that she was increasingly seen by Tory and Labour colleagues alike as ‘Theresa May without the grimace’.
She was often given a fair wind because many MPs liked her personally and admired her, not least when she showed amazing guts to turn up for a TV election debate 48 hours after her father died last year. And don’t forget that was a debate that May herself had ducked. Talk of a future Tory leadership tilt, despite her Remainer background, was not that fanciful.
Life on the backbenches will be strange, given that she spent virtually no time on them since George Osborne made her his Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) within less than two years of her first arrival at Westminster. Remainers will hope that she can claw back some credibility to help their case, but know that it would have been much better to have her inside the Cabinet room making it.
Still, unlike Morgan, Soubry, Grieve, she will know exactly where the bodies are buried on internal Cabinet Brexit discussions about customs unions and Northern Ireland and more. That could be very dangerous indeed.
As for the Prime Minister, Rudd’s departure obviously focuses minds on just what she knew and when about this whole policy of targeted deportations. It was apt perhaps that May’s own long-time foe Yvette Cooper, chair of the Home Affairs Committee, delivered the coup de grace to Rudd today. Rudd’s planned statement to Parliament may well now have to turn into a statement by the PM herself. You can bet Cooper will relish the chance to call May before her Home Affairs Committee and subject her to the same forensic grilling that undid Rudd.
The brutal political calculus of Cabinet resignations is that politicians only quit once it becomes clear that keeping them causes more damage than letting them go. But with Rudd gone, May’s even more exposed. Her wafer-thin majority, her fractious Cabinet and her uneasy Parliamentary party mean her own premiership is once again on the line.
Colleagues and opposition politicians have responded to the news.
W H A T N E X T
Theresa May will now need to appoint a new home secretary with the hope of getting a grip on the Windrush scandal as Labour seek to exploit the row in the run up to next week’s local elections. The Opposition has scheduled a parliamentary debate on Wednesday on the issue, the day before voters go to the polls.
Rudd’s resignation has likely torpedoed any chance she had of becoming the next Tory leader. It also means the finely balanced cabinet loses one of its most high-profile pro-Remain members.