POLITICS
25/04/2018 13:43 BST | Updated 25/04/2018 14:03 BST

Theresa May Warned 'Do Not Try To Hide' Over Windrush Scandal

PM accused of using civil servants as shields and conflating Windrush Britons with illegal immigrants.

Theresa May was warned “do not try to hide” behind Home Office officials, Labour or Cabinet colleagues as the Windrush scandal continued to engulf the Government. 

With heartbreaking stories of Windrush Britons cut off from healthcare and threatened with deportation still emerging, Labour MP Yvette Cooper challenged the Prime Minister during PMQs to take responsibility for the fallout. 

The former Home Secretary faced claims she repeatedly conflated the Windrush scandal with illegal immigration and that she tried to shift the blame on to Labour. 

Jeremy Corbyn challenged May to explain why she ignored internal government memos that sounded warnings about potential discrimination caused by “hostile environment” policies, going on to tell May she should resign for her part in the debacle.

Tottenham Labour MP David Lammy, meanwhile, accused the PM of conflating the issue of illegal immigration with Windrush Britons.

But it was Cooper, chair of the powerful Home Affairs Select Committee, who landed a blow. 

After noting that May had quoted her on immigration previously, Cooper said: “Let me say to the PM, do not try to hide behind me or the Labour Party because she was warned repeatedly of the damage her obsession with her net migration target was doing. 

″’Do not try to hide behind the Cabinet, when they do not agree with you and are trying to clean up this mess. 

Yvette Cooper during PMQs
Yvette Cooper during PMQs

“Do not try to hide behind civil servants when she set the policies, instilled in them the culture of disbelief and when the high commissioners told us this morning that they had warned the Foreign Office about the Windrush generation’s problems in 2016, what did she do? 

“Because a few years ago, the PM said I’m actually sick and tired of a government minister that simply blames other people when something goes wrong. What’s changed?” 

May has refused to respond to calls to sack her Home Secretary Amber Rudd.

She has, however, apologised for the fact that the Home Office has been questioning the status of Windrush Britons who have spent decades contributing to the UK. The PM has also offered compensation “where appropriate” for those caught up in the debacle.  

Theresa May during PMQs

May has been at the centre of a barrage of criticism for the Government’s policy to cut net migration down to the tens of thousands - an edict to which May was reportedly determined to stick and which numerous Tories criticised her for. 

It also emerged before PMQs in the Commons that Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, a key figure in the race to replace May, favours an immigration amnesty for all long-standing Commonwealth migrants and had championed that idea at this week’s Cabinet meeting.  

May hit back at Cooper, however. 

“Nobody’s trying to blame anybody else,” she said. “The question of the Windrush generation arises from the fact that when they came here, they were not documented - their status to leave here was not documented. 

“Over the years, there have been individual cases of people who have had to regularise their documentation and have done so. 

“We have now seen cases where people have got into difficulty because they have not been able to do that. 

“That is why the Home Office is taking action to deal with that. 

“But for governments of every colour, including that in which the Rt Hon Lady served, action has been taken against illegal immigrants.  

“This does not apply to the Windrush generation, they are here, they are British, they have a right to be here.”