Windrush row: five questions Amber Rudd has yet to answer

The home secretary is due to make a statement to the Commons on Monday

1. What compensation will those wrongly targeted receive?

Asked about this at prime minister’s questions on Wednesday, Theresa May said Rudd would “set out the details of that compensation scheme in due course”. The home secretary assured MPs those who had wrongly lost jobs, homes or benefits would get recompense. But those people who have lost their livelihoods, homes and access to free healthcare are demanding to know what they can claim for, when they can apply and how they might apply.

2. How many people are potentially affected by the Windrush crisis?

A lot. In the short time since the Windrush hotline was set up, Glynn Williams, the head of immigration for the Home Office, told the home affairs committee on Wednesday it had taken 3,800 calls, of which 1,364 had been identified as being Windrush cases. This is likely to rise.

So far, he said, 91 appointments had been made, 25 had taken place and 23 documents issued. Earlier in the day, a junior minister, Nadhim Zahawi, had promised all cases would be sorted out within a fortnight. This looks a tough ask.

3. When does an “ambition” become a “target”?

Brandon Lewis told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday that he often spoke to the home secretary about increasing migrant removals but not “detailed numbers or targets”.

Lewis remembered seeing the June 2017 memo, copied to Rudd and leaked to the Guardian, which referred to targets; he confirmed that Rudd had put in an extra £10m to help his staff meet a target of increasing removals; he also confirmed that Rudd discussed aiming towards an increase in deportations. But he insisted that she only discussed an “overall ambition” to increase removals, not a specific number.

Labour says Lewis is obfuscating to save Rudd and stop May from coming under fire. But the semantics are important because if Rudd did discuss targets, she may have misled parliament on several occasions.

(April 23, 2018) 

Rudd delivered an unprecedented apology to parliament and acknowledged that her department had “lost sight of individuals” and become “too concerned with policy”.

(April 25, 2018) 

Rudd apologised for failing to grasp the scale of the problem. She told the home affairs select committee: “I bitterly, deeply regret that I didn’t see it as more than individual cases gone wrong that needed addressing. I didn’t see it as a systemic issue until very recently.”

(April 26, 2018) 

On Thursday morning, Rudd was forced to admit officials did have targets for removals, having previously denied their existence.

“The immigration arm of the Home Office has been using local targets for internal performance management. These were not published targets against which performance was assessed, but if they were used inappropriately then I am clear that this will have to change."

(April 26, 2018) 

On Thursday afternoon, Rudd was forced to issue a hasty clarification after appearing to leave the door open to the UK staying in a customs union with the EU.

“I should have been clearer – of course when we leave the EU we will be leaving the customs union."

(April 27, 2018) 

In a series of late-night tweets, Rudd apologised for not being aware of documents, leaked to the Guardian, which set out immigration removal targets. 

‘I wasn’t aware of specific removal targets. I accept I should have been and I’m sorry that I wasn’t. I didn’t see the leaked document, although it was copied to my office as many documents are."

4. Who is to blame?

Rudd at times was keen to accept there was a wider issue connected to the so-called “hostile environment” approach, but then rejected the idea that this had “blurred the lines” between targeting “illicit migrants” and those with the right to be in the UK.

Civil service unions demanded clarification when she seemed to blame Home Office officials, saying her department needed “to have a more personal approach in terms of engaging with people”.

But Rudd also targeted previous governments for not realising the undocumented status of many in the Windrush generation could cause problems, saying it was “disappointing no previous governments saw this coming”.

5. Have many people been wrongly detained or deported?

We still don’t know. On removals, Rudd said: “The answer is, not as far as we can see at the moment.” But, she added, this was not definitive as checks were still being made.


Rajeev Syal

The GuardianTramp

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