UK Home Secretary and Theresa May ally Amber Rudd has resigned following the Sunday publication by The Guardian of a private letter to May, in which Rudd sets an "ambitious but deliverable" target to deport 10% more illegal immigrants over the "next few years" - a goal she set personally.
Pressure had been building on Rudd, who previously insisted that she knew nothing about the targeting program known as the "Windrush scandal" during questioning by the Home Affairs Select Committee, but backtracked after it emerged that there were indeed localized targets.
On Saturday, The Guardian published portions of a leaked letter sent to Rudd's and several others detailing the program. In light of the new revelations, Rudd faced harsh questions from Parliament on Monday.
Home Office sources have told the Guardian that it is “shame-faced nonsense” to claim the department had not been set specific targets in this area, or that these have not been regularly discussed at the highest levels. -The Guardian
The previously leaked memo, dated June 21, 2017 and published by The Guardian, was sent to Rudd last year by Hugh Ind - director general of Immigration Enforcement in the Home Office, which corresponds to the new policy outlined by Rudd in her memo to Theresa May.
The six-page memo, passed to the Guardian, says the department has set “a target of achieving 12,800 enforced returns in 2017-18” and boasts that “we have exceeded our target of assisted returns”.
It adds that progress has been made on a “path towards the 10% increased performance on enforced returns, which we promised the home secretary earlier this year”. -The Guardian
The Guardian also reveals that the six-page briefing was sent to at least eight of the Home Office's most senior officials, including:
- Marc Owen, senior director of national and international operations in Immigration Enforcement.
- Mark Thomson, the director general of the Passport Office.
- Tony Eastaugh, UK director of operations at Immigration Enforcement.
- Gareth Hills, director of performance and risk at the Home Office.
- Stephen Kershaw, a senior director in Immigration Enforcement.
- Andrew Wren, director of performance, assurance and governance at the Home Office.
Rudd has been under pressure by the Labour party to resign following the emergence of the leaked memo.
The shadow home secretary, Diane Abbott, said: “Amber Rudd is hanging by a thread to shield the prime minister from her responsibilities as the initial architect of this cruel and callous approach to migration, which resulted in the Windrush scandal."
“She failed to read crucial documents which meant she wasn’t aware of the removal targets that have led to people’s lives being ruined. Another apology is not enough, she should take responsibility for chaos in the Home Office and resign.”
Senior members of the home affairs select committee were discussing how best to hold Rudd to account in parliament next week. They also hope to interrogate the prime minister on what she knew about the targets culture.
The SNP’s Stewart McDonald pointed to the ministerial code, which says “ministers who knowingly mislead parliament will be expected to offer their resignation”. -The Guardian
Meanwhile, MP Barry Gardiner wondered allowed following Rudd's departure: "If Amber Rudd has gone because of a memo to @theresa_may telling her about higher targets for enforced removals, then surely the Prime Minister also knew and should not have allowed parliament to be misled all last week."
If Amber Rudd has gone because of a memo to @theresa_may telling her about higher targets for enforced removals, then surely the Prime Minister also knew and should not have allowed parliament to be misled all last week. pic.twitter.com/LrUR6uHsCD— Barry Gardiner (@BarryGardiner) April 29, 2018
Now that it's clear that Downing street also knew about the targeting, one wonders if May's resignation could soon follow?