Amber Rudd has resigned as Home Secretary after admitting she “inadvertently misled” MPs over targets for deporting illegal immigrants.
Rudd telephoned Prime Minister Theresa May to tell her of the decision on Sunday evening.
It came amid mounting pressure over her role in Home Office policies that led to some so-called Windrush generation migrants, many of whom have lived in the UK for decades, being threatened with being kicked out of the country.
A Number 10 spokesman said: “The prime minister has tonight accepted the resignation of the Home Secretary.”
A Downing Street source told HuffPost UK a new Home Secretary would be announced on Monday.
Rudd’s cabinet colleagues expressed support for Rudd when news of her departure was announced - including from two of the leading contenders to replace her.
Her decision to stand down will come as a major blow to May, who publicly declared her “full confidence” in the Home Secretary on Friday, after the Guardian newspaper published a leaked memo that linked Rudd to Home Office targets for deporting migrants.
Rudd first told the Commons Home Affairs Committee that she was unaware of any targets for removing illegal migrants, and later said she had not seen the leaked memo, written by Hugh Ind, the director general of the Home Office’s Immigration Enforcement agency.
However, with mounting evidence emerging detailing the extent of the knowledge within the Home Office about the targets, Rudd decided that she should take responsibility and go.
Even before she was accused of misleading MPs, Rudd had been under fire for her handling of the Windrush scandal which saw Commonwealth citizens who came to Britain in the post-war decades being denied healthcare, pensions and benefits.
Rudd’s departure leaves May more exposed over the crisis and the Prime Minister is facing demands to face MPs in the Commons today.
Labour said Rudd had been effectively acting as a “human shield” for May, whose policy when she herself was Home Secretary of creating a “hostile environment” for illegal immigrants was blamed for causing the problems they now faced.
Theresa May’s letter to Amber Rudd
Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott told BBC Radio 4′s Westminster Hour: “I think Amber has done the right thing.
“When I called for her resignation last week I reminded her that when Lord Carrington resigned over the Falklands he said it was a matter of honour. I called on her to resign as a matter of honour.
“I refuse to put the Windrush generation to one side. We don’t know the detail about the compensation, there’s a lot of uncertainty.”
Asked if she had any sympathy for Rudd, Abbott replied: “Politics is a very tough and difficult game. I know that, but my sympathy at this point is that generation of people who feel they’ve been let down by this Government.
“We all need to turn our attention to Theresa May. In 2014 she put legislation through which removed the protection from deportation that Commonwealth citizens had always had.”
The Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Sir Ed Davey said: “It’s clear that Amber Rudd has ended up, at least partly, being the fall guy to protect the Prime Minister. Theresa May must face questions now given these dreadful failures largely took place under her watch as Home Secretary.”
Rudd’s brother Roland, the chairman of the pro-Remain campaign group Open Britain, praised his sister.
Rudd’s departure will also upset the delicate balance within the Cabinet between Leavers and Remainers ahead of a crucial meeting of the Brexit “war cabinet” on Wednesday to discuss Britain’s future customs relationship with the EU.
Home Secretary Runners And Riders
The communities secretary is seen as a favourite for the job. His appointment as home secretary as the Home Office grapples with the Windrush scandal would also send an important signal to those affected by the crisis. Javid’s parents arrived in the UK from Pakistan in the 1960s. And in an interview with The Sunday Telegraph he told of his reaction to news that people had been wrongly threatened with deportation. “I thought that could be my mum ... my dad ... my uncle ... it could be me,” he said. Javid campaigned to Remain in the EU. But many had expected him to join the Leave camp given his eurosceptic views.
The environment secretary has re-invented himself as an eco-warrior and has made the most of his return to the cabinet table with a series of headline grabbing green announcements. As a former education secretary and justice secretary Gove can claim to be an experienced hand. However the appointment of the leading Brexiteer to replace one of the key figures in the Remain campaign would be a notable shift in the Brexit balance of the cabinet. Theresa May and Gove also have a history of animosity. A row between the pair led to Fiona Hill, May’s longtime aide, being forced to resign.
The former Northern Ireland secretary unexpectedly quit the cabinet in January in order to surgery for a lung cancer. Brokenshire served as immigration minister during May’s time has home secretary and is a close ally of the prime minister. His time in the Home Office would mean he would require no training on how the department functions. However it also means it would be hard to present his appointment as home secretary as a new broom. Brokenshire campaigned for Remain at the referendum.
The Northern Ireland secretary is another Tory MP who served in May’s Home Office who has prospered under the current regime. Like Rudd, Bradley campaigned for Remain. But like May, she has since refused to say how she would vote were there a second Brexit referendum. However counting against Bradley is the fact she was only given the Northern Ireland brief less than four months ago. Another change in that sensitive role could be seen as destabilising at a time when all eyes are on the Irish border issue as Brexit talks come to a head.
The transport secretary served as May’s campaign manager in the 2016 leadership race. He quickly threw his support behind May after David Cameron resigned and was rewarded with a cabinet post. His appointment as home secretary would be a remarkable comeback for the Brexiteer who was demoted from justice secretary to leader of the Commons by Cameron and was widely expected to be booted out of the cabinet completely had the then prime minister survived in office.