The government has been criticised by several public figures after the news of the home secretary’s plans to abandon several key commitments made after the Windrush scandal in the run-up to the 75th anniversary of the ship’s arrival in the UK.
On Friday, the Guardian reported that Suella Braverman was planning to abandon several of the key commitments made since the Windrush scandal, including dropping the pledge to create a migrants’ commissioner and a U-turn on the promise to increase the powers of the independent chief inspector of borders and immigration.
The recommendations were originally accepted three years ago by the government after a formal inquiry by Wendy Williams examined the scandal under which the Home Office erroneously classified legal residents, many of whom arrived from Caribbean countries as children in the 1950s and 1960s, as immigrants living in the UK illegally.
This is despite the former home secretary, Priti Patel, having made a firm promise to introduce all 30 recommendations made by Williams in 2020, who listed in her Windrush Lessons Learned Review the precise steps the department needed to take to avoid any repeat of the scandal.
Prominent black Britons who have criticised the government include Ian Wright, who referred to the government as “evil” and “heartless”, as well as the MP David Lammy who told the home secretary: “Using the Windrush Generation as a political football is totally reprehensible. Backsliding on the recommendations after the scandalous way innocent black Britons were treated by the government is sick, cruel and debases the UK.”
Other critics of the home secretary’s decision included the Labour MP Yvette Cooper, who tweeted: “5yrs since Windrush Scandal so awful that Tory Home Secretary resigned & successors promised radical change & implemention of Windrush report. Now Sunak & Braverman ripping their promises to Windrush generation up. On 75th Windrush anniversary. Shameful.”
Caroline Lucas, the Green party MP, said: “Braverman cannot be allowed to get away with this.”
The plans come as the government prepares to implement hardline promises to fast-track the detention and removal of migrants.
On Wednesday, in his first big speech, the prime minister, Rishi Sunak, said: “We will pass new laws to stop small boats, making sure that if you come to this country illegally you are detained and swiftly removed.”
According to the original government report, the origins of the Windrush scandal could be traced back to 30 years of racist immigration legislation designed to reduce the UK’s non-white population.
In October it was reported that victims of the scandal were frustrated at the slow progress of the compensation scheme, with many being told they were ineligible for payments or were facing long delays.