Home Secretary Amber Rudd has so far resisted calls to resign, to take the hit for the chaotic mess that is the Home Office and its attitude even to British citizens. The scandal of those from the Windrush Generation who have been stripped of their citizenship and threatened with deportation has put her on the edge. But even yesterday it looked as though she might hang on. After the latest leak, she might just not.
Ms Rudd “told the home affairs select committee this week that the Home Office did not have targets for removals. She had to backtrack when it emerged there were localised targets, but she said she was unaware of them”. Then “on Thursday, she admitted there were operational targets but said she would be abandoning the policy”. She “told reporters she had ‘not approved, seen or cleared any targets for removals’, and suggested any targets that did exist were regional rather than national”.
This was too much for someone in her own department, who has now taken the decision to shop her to the newspaper most likely to publish - the Guardian. The paper has been passed a six-page memo, “prepared by Hugh Ind, the director general of the Home Office’s Immigration Enforcement agency, in June last year and copied to Rudd and Brandon Lewis, the then immigration minister, as well as several … special advisers”.
And the contents? Well, it “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’”. Amber Rudd was copied in. So was Brandon Lewis.
The language used in the memo will only fuel calls for Ms Rudd to go. Take that used to describe “assisted returns”, those whose passage has been paid by the Government (something Enoch Powell might have applauded): “Typically these will be our most vulnerable returnees … We have exceeded our target of assisted returns. We set an internal target of 1,250 of these returns for 2016-17 … we delivered 1,581”.
Did no-one involved bother to stop and think that these were individual human beings who were being discussed as if they were so much air freight? Whatever the answer, the Guardian’s Home Office source is clear who is driving this stance: “These programmes are being run by civil servants, but the policies are being driven by politicians … The pressure comes from the top, and Amber Rudd is at the top. She is the one cracking the whip”.
The memo even “outlines measures being taken to identify the NHS trusts in England and Wales where people in the country illegally might try to receive treatment”, telling its readers of a “memorandum of understandings with 16 of these trusts … [to] prevent upfront access to healthcare to which illegal immigrants are not entitled”.
It’s a Daily Mail executive’s wet dream - denial of rights, denial of the right to medical treatment, repatriation, kicking out more of those that frighten the curtain-twitchers.
And it’s got Amber Rudd’s fingerprints all over it. This time she has got to go.