Windrush promises must have legal backing

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A demonstration in Windrush Square, Brixton in solidarity with the Windrush generation. There is to be a Support Windrush  Generation demonstration in Parliament Square today from 4.00-7.00pm
A demonstration in Windrush Square, Brixton in solidarity with the Windrush generation. There is to be a Support Windrush Generation demonstration in Parliament Square today from 4.00-7.00pm

MORE than 200 MPs have signed a letter to the prime minister calling for government promises to Windrush migrants to be written into law. The letter, co-ordinated by Labour MP David Lammy, said concerns over compensation, housing and legal rights had not been settled.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd is accused in the letter of making up immigration policy ‘on the hoof’ to try to defuse the situation. The letter, addressed to Theresa May, said any promises made by the government in response to the Windrush crisis should be enshrined in law ‘without delay’. It continued: ‘We are calling on you to do this by bringing a statutory instrument before Parliament to ensure that the measures are implemented as quickly as possible.’

Asked if Rudd should go, Lammy declined to answer directly, saying: ‘If it was me I would have fallen on my sword. ‘But this is not about personalities, we must have action on behalf of the Windrush generation.’ He added: ‘I’ve seen legislation introduced on Monday and passed on Wednesday – it’s imperative we do something quickly.’

The signatories are mainly from Labour MPs but politicians from the SNP, Plaid Cymru, the Green Party – and one Tory – also feature. In a separate letter, Labour MP and shadow home secretary Diane Abbott who has called for Amber Rudd to resign, demanded a full inquiry into whether the Home Secretary had breached the ministerial code over government immigration removal targets.

Abbott said Rudd’s explanations as to why she had told MPs there were no such targets, when in fact there were, ‘stretch credulity to the limit’.

Abbott called on the Cabinet Office officials to launch a wide-ranging investigation into ‘who knew what and when about targets for removals’. She called for Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood and Sue Gray, the outgoing head of Propriety and Ethics, to launch a wide-ranging inquiry into a number of areas.

These include whether a Home Office memo, recently leaked to the Guardian which mentioned apparently national deportation targets, had been received by the Home Secretary; whether any previous memos or documents mentioning targets have been received by Rudd, and whether Theresa May, while she was Home Secretary, had been aware of such targets.

Rudd tweeted on Friday night admitting she had been copied in on a memo that mentioned migrant deportation targets but insisted that she had not actually read it. Rudd confirmed she would address the House of Commons today to answer ‘legitimate questions that have arisen on targets and illegal migration.

• There is to be a Support ‘Windrush Generation’ amnesty debate protest today between 4-7pm, Parliament Square, London. Protest organisers Stand Up To Racism said: ‘Join us outside Parliament for the emergency debate on the Windrush petition that has been signed.

‘We will be joined by Diane Abbott MP and David Lammy MP. ‘The Windrush scandal has shown the racism at the heart of this government’s immigration policies. ‘Men and women who have lived in the UK for decades – and have made a huge contribution to our society – have been treated like criminals.

‘We support the call for amnesty for the “Windrush generation” who were invited to the UK as British citizens. ‘We call on the government to stop all deportations, make sure there are no problems with documentation and establish an amnesty for those who came here as minors.’