Home secretary Amber Rudd has this afternoon appeared before the Home Affairs Select Committee. It was not an edifying sight: she appeared not to know she was not at Home Office Questions in the Commons, her answers exasperated committee members, some of what she said appeared to contradict what had already been provided to those present, and her language was, at times, singularly unfortunate.
As a result, we now have a Dead Minister Walking. While some politics observers are still picking away at the Labour Party over alleged anti-Semitism, we have in plain sight the prospect that Theresa May’s successor, and her human shield, will have to go, and soon. That raises the prospect of Ms May being left alone to carry the can for Windrush.
How bad was it? Natalie Bloomer gave a taster: “Listening to Amber Rudd's evidence to the home affairs committee you'd think she just rocked up at the Home Office last week. She either hasn't got a clue what's happening in her own department or she's very keen not to admit what she does know”. That bad.
Laura Kuenssberg also brought bad news for The Blue Team: “Home Office and Number 10 WERE warned about Windrush problems back in May 2016 after Commonwealth countries raised concerns with Foreign Office, I've been told - Rudd has just said she doesn't have information on that - no official response yet”. And she had more.
“V testy exchanges btw Rudd and [Yvette] Cooper - Rudd says she doesn't know about Home Office targets for removals, Cooper dumbfounded having just taken evidence that says the opposite”. Yes, it really was that bad.
Paul Johnson of the Guardian might not have been able to believe what he was hearing, but Tweeted it out anyway. “Q Yvette Cooper: Do you have 4 different pieces of proof for where you were living in 1989? A Amber Rudd: this is the core of the problem”. Well, yes, and what about the Windrush Generation getting threatened with deportation?
Meanwhile, Paul Waugh of the HuffPost had a minor but worrying aside: “Tiny procedural point. Amber Rudd thinks she's in Home Office Questions not before a select cttee, keeps talking about 'the Rt Hon Lady' in 3rd person and not 'you, chair' etc”.
Waugh also broke the news of a proper gaffe from the Home Secretary: “Oops Rudd just talked about 'the whole Windrush saga... ' then realised that wasn't quite the right phrase”.
Faisal Islam of Sky News also got that one, as well as the sense of occasion: “Home Secretary under real pressure here - are there deportation targets? asks Cooper - not clear. Is the net migration target to blame? No. Are you protecting the PM? No. -- briefly refers to crisis as ‘Windrush Saga’”. It was bad alright.
It was left to the Independent’s sketch writer Tom Peck to put the lid on proceedings: “Amber Rudd appears unclear if the Home Office ever had ‘net removal targets.’ ‘You mean a number?’ ‘Well,’ she is told by Stephen Doughty. ‘I assume a net removal target means a number.’ I am inclined to think it literally means removal with a net”.
Tory ministers are nowadays loath to resign, however bad their performance. Perhaps.