As a passionate politician, I was shocked to hear this week’s big political news story surrounding the resignation of the Conservative Home Secretary. The minister was in charge of the Home Office (the department charged with the management of immigration to the UK).
Things started going wrong for Amber Rudd when the media became aware that the Home Office issuing threats to deport the children of the Windrush generation. The Windrush generation were a group of Caribbean workers who had been invited to the UK in 1948 as a response to post-war labour shortages. The generation were named after a ship that brought a group over called MV Empire Wind Rush. As a result of the scandal, Amber Rudd was invited to speak before a Parliamentary Committee to explain why the Home Office had been making threats about deportation. The final straw for her turned out to be a response that she gave saying that there were no deportation targets, when in fact there were, and a leaked memorandum revealed that she had previously been informed. She was immediately accused of misleading Parliament, but her defence was that she had not fully read the memorandum and her testimony was a mistake. In response, she accepted that she had made grave mistakes and felt her performance didn’t meet the standards of a Senior Government Minister and tendered her resignation to the Prime Minister, who accepted her resignation, but expressed her sadness at how matters had progressed to that point.
The threatened deportations could be argued to be a government response to the public’s frustration over the mass immigration that has occurred over the past few years. It became one of the most politically charged debates of the EU referendum in 2016, where it became evident that there was much public frustration over how the government has been handling immigration. The government (or more specifically the Home Office) had long been criticised over their inability to meet immigration targets and the Home Office that was managed by the then Home Secretary, a certain Teresa May. It seems the government had consciously taken a stronger line with immigration but to deport (or threaten to deport) members of the Windrush generation was a step too far and Amber Rudd ultimately paid the price!
Let’s face it, you cannot have a political report without the mention of Brexit: it’s almost illegal! The episode provided a distraction for Teresa May from the ongoing battles over Brexit, which up until this point had been all-encompassing – to say the least. It is just one example of how the government are struggling to implement the expectations of a public who voted for change but the details and methods are still being designed by the government with ongoing difficulties. It will appear that Brexit will continue to dominate government focus, part of which will be how they now control immigration. Quite rightly, the Windrush generation will not now be caught up in the designs for delivery of Brexit.
Quite simply, politics is a nasty business, much of it more complicated then it needs to be!