Theresa May has claimed the decision to destroy the Windrush generation’s landing cards was taken by the last Labour government.
Speaking during PMQs on Wednesday, Jeremy Corbyn demanded to know whether the prime minister had signed off the decision when she was home secretary in 2010.
But May appeared to catch the Labour leader off-guard when she told him: “No the decision to destroy the landing cards was taken in 2009 under a Labour government.”
The unexpected reply drew loud shouts and cheers from Tory backbench MPs. In 2009 there were two Labour home secretaries, Jacqui Smith and Alan Johnson.
But Downing Street clarified after PMQs that the decision to destroy the landing cards in 2009 was an “operational decision” by the UK Border Agency and therefore would not have been directly taken by the then Labour home secretary.
And Corbyn accused May of trying to “blame officials” in her former department which he said had become “heartless and hopeless” under her leadership.
The prime minister has been under intense pressure over reports thousands who answered the post-World War II call to come to the UK to work in essential services are wrongly being denied access to state healthcare, losing their jobs and even being threatened with deportation.
Yesterday it was revealed documents which had been used to establish when migrants arrived in the UK were destroyed by the Home Office in 2010 - when May was home secretary.
The prime minister used her appearance at PMQs to apologise to those who have been wrongly threatened with being kicked out of the UK.
“I want to say sorry to anyone who has been caused confusion and anxiety by this,” she told the Commons.
Corbyn said: “This is a shameful episode, and the responsibility with it lies firmly at the prime minister’s door.”
“Her pandering to bogus immigration targets led to a hostile environment for people contributing to our country.
“It led to British citizens being denied NHS treatment, losing their jobs, homes and pensions, thrown into detention centres like criminals and even deported.”
Amber Rudd, the home secretary who succeed May in the job, has been told she should “consider her position” by Labour for the “misery” caused.