Theresa May has acknowledged she was aware the Home Office had targets for deporting illegal immigrants when she was home secretary.
Amber Rudd dramatically resigned from the government last night after admitting she “inadvertently misled” MPs when she told them targets did not exist.
The prime minister has replaced Rudd in the Home Office with former communities secretary Sajid Javid.
Asked if she new about deportation targets while serving as home secretary from 2010 until 2016, May told Sky News: “Yes there were targets in terms of removing people from the country who are here illegally. This is important.
“If you talk to the members of the public, they want to make sure we are dealing with people who are here illegally.”
Jeremy Corbyn has said Rudd was acting as the prime minister’s “human shield”.
As she scrambled to save her political career last week, Rudd said she would scrap targets for removing people from Britain.
In the wake of the Windrush scandal that saw people with the legal right to live in the UK threatened with deportation, Labour has moved its focus from Rudd to May.
Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott told the BBC this morning: “All roads lead back to Theresa May and her tenure as home secretary.”
It was May, not Rudd, who was the author of the government’s “hostile environment” policy towards illegal immigration.
And she has also stuck doggedly to the 100,000 net migration target - in the face of opposition from many in her own cabinet.
Just this morning, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling suggested May might not have known about the targets.
The ally of the prime minister told BBC Radio 4′s Today programme: “The current prime minister has not been home secretary for an extensive period, she will not have known what is happening in the Home Office today,” he said.
“Ministers don’t see what is happening in every corner of their department all the time.”