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25 April 2018updated 09 Jun 2021 9:47am

Why Amber Rudd won’t suggest real solutions to the worsening Windrush scandal

The Home Secretary can’t exactly blame her predecessor.

By Stephen Bush

Red light for Amber: the Home Secretary has a difficult appointment in front of the Home Affairs Select Committee this afternoon.

Rudd’s problem is that she can’t blame her predecessor and, for one reason or another, she won’t be calling for either of the things that could resolve the scandal: an ID card scheme, which is unacceptable to many Conservatives and simply wouldn’t pass parliament, or the unpicking of the hostile environment policy, which represents the major legislative accomplishment of Theresa May’s time at the Home Office and the only legislative accomplishment of May’s time at Downing Street. Expect an awful lot of blaming the department to take place. 

Adding to Rudd’s misery, the Windrush scandal is spreading to other Commonwealth citizens. Amelia Gentleman reveals the horrifying case of Margaret O’Brien, a retired Canadian widow who has lived in the United Kingdom for 44 years, who faced the threat of deportation and months of struggle to remain in the United Kingdom.

One scene in particular from Gentleman’s article ought to be widely shared, remembered and acted upon: O’Brien, who has reduced mobility and chronic pain, carefully collected documents showing her right to be in the United Kingdom, and after a year of grappling with the Home Office was finally able to meet an official face-to-face. She thought it would be an opportunity to show the documents she had collected, but instead all he asked was if there was anyone in Canada who could give her somewhere to stay. 

It’s a reminder that, yes, people talking up Home Office incompetence are explaining away the hostile environment policy working as intended, and, yes, when Rudd talks about the institutional and cultural problems of her department this afternoon it will be a partial truth to avoid being caught by a knockout blow from Yvette Cooper. But that partial truth is still an important one that has to be resolved, just as much as the legislative actions of Theresa May.

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