‘WE ARE talking about the environment created by her (PM Theresa May) as Home Secretary for six years when she knew full well of the problems the Windrush generation were facing,’ Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said at Prime Minister’s Questions in Parliament yesterday. He concluded PMQs by demanding that current Home Secretary Amber Rudd should resign.
In his opening question, Corbyn said: ‘Four years ago an internal Home Office memo stated that her (May’s) hostile environment policies could make it harder for people like the Windrush generation to find homes and in its own words “provoke discrimination”. Why did the Home Secretary (May) ignore that memo?’
May did not answer Corbyn’s question.
Corbyn went on: ‘The prime minister herself was warned by the member for Stoke Newington and Hackney South who is now the Shadow Home Secretary (Diane Abbott) directly about these policies in 2014 and when that act was going through parliament the then communities secretary Eric Pickles wrote to her, warning, “the costs and risks considerably outweigh the benefits”. Why did she ignore his advice as well as the request from my honourable friend?’ Again May did not answer Corbyn’s question.
Corbyn said: ‘The prime minister seems to want to get away from the injustice done to the Windrush generation. The Equalities and Human Rights Commission warned about the 2016 Immigration Act saying “the Bill is likely to lead to destitution and may cause inhuman and degrading treatment in breach of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights”… Will the Prime Minister now commit to reviewing that legislation to make sure this never happens again?’ Again May failed to answer the question.
Corbyn then said: ‘In 2013 the then Home Secretary (May) said it was about creating a “really hostile environment” and that’s why she was introducing the legislation. Had the Windrush generation not mounted the campaign that they have, had members on this side of the House not raised the matter persistently, there would be no compensation, there would be no review, there would be no apology …
‘The dismantling of legal aid provision in 2012 made the impact of the 2014 immigration Act harder to challenge. These policies swept up British citizens and legal migrants, causing them immense suffering as she was warned. So can the Prime Minister send a clear message today and tell us “the hostile environment is over” and that her bogus immigration targets that have driven this hostile culture will be scrapped?’ May made no such assurance.
Corbyn’s final question was: ‘Last week, the current Home Secretary admitted the Home Office sometimes loses sight of the individual, yet we now know that when she took over from her predecessor her intent was to harden this cruel and misdirected policy, pledging to do so “ruthlessly”.
‘A report last month by immigration officials stated the hostile environment measures were not even having the desired effect. The current Home Secretary inherited a failing policy and made it worse. Isn’t it time she took responsibility and resigned?’
May’s response was similar to her response to the previous five questions, merely claiming: ‘Up and down this country people want to ensure that the government is taking action against those people who are here in this country illegally.’ Most people will think that Corbyn should have demanded May’s resignation.
• Cancer patient Albert Thompson, the man who has been the focus of much of the Windrush row, has been given a date to start his NHS treatment at Royal Marsden Hospital. It comes after he was told last year he would have to pay £54,000 unless he could produce the right documentation.