Calls are intensifying for Theresa May to sack ministers over the Windrush scandal after old footage of the PM emerged in which she demanded resignations over Labour immigration failings.
In the 2004 BBC Question Time clip, May laid into Tony Blair’s administration, claiming they had “lost control” and she was “sick and tired” of ministers “not taking responsibility”.
May called for Beverley Hughes, the Immigration Minister, to resign over a visa scam - something Hughes later did - after she lost grip on the issue and lied to a Commons committee.
Fast-forward to 2018 and it is May who faces increasing demands to sack ministers, with Home Secretary Amber Rudd and Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes widely lambasted over their chaotic handling of the Windrush scandal.
May was forced to apologise to Commonwealth leaders after it emerged that thousands who answered the post-World War II call to come to the UK to work in essential services are being denied access to state healthcare, losing their jobs and even being threatened with deportation.
Labour MP David Lammy, who unearthed the recording, said ministers should do the “honourable thing” and stand down.
Theresa May’s 2004 Question Time Exchange
Question: “Has the government lost control of its immigration policy?”
Theresa May: “Yes I think the government has lost control of its immigration and asylum policy. Frankly I think we see a degree of chaos in what is happening and what is perfectly clear from what has taken place and been admitted by the Government and by Beverley Hughes in particular at the beginning of this week is that we have in this Government Ministers who simply don’t know what is going on in their Department, we have Departments that deny the truth and have to have it dragged out of them.”
David Dimbleby: “What’s the political remedy?”
Theresa May: “I think there are two things. I do think Beverley should resign as Minister on this particular issue. And I find it absolutely extraordinary that she has said in front of the Select Committee and in the House of Commons she blamed officials in her Department for this particular decision having been taken.
“I find it extraordinary that a Minister isn’t willing just to step up to the plate and take responsibility and it seems to me that you don’t have to take a Ministerial job, you don’t have to take the care and the extra pay and so forth. But when you do there is responsibility that has to be taken with it. And I’m actually sick and tired of Government Ministers in this Labour government who simply blame other people when something goes wrong and are not willing to take responsibility for what is happening under this government and their decisions.”
When Hughes said she couldn’t be expected to manage the civil servants in her department, May responded: “But Beverley, you are the minister who is responsible for what happens in your department.”
The Home Office has also been unable to say how many Windrush Britons have been wrongly deported, blaming a mix-up in paperwork.
May has also faced criticism for failing to act sooner after Jeremy Corbyn raised the issue with May at Prime Minister’s Questions a month ago.
Lammy said: “In the past when the home secretary or the immigration minister lost control of the their department, the minister did the honourable thing and allowed a new minister to get on with the job.
“Ministers who are in charge of a department that threatens innocent people with deportation and makes their life a misery should take responsibility for what has happened on their watch and step aside.
“I fail to see why Theresa May has not acted and simply cannot understand why nobody has resigned over what has been a litany of abject failure.”