Amber Rudd has resigned as Home Secretary on the same day a letter showing her referencing immigrant deportation targets, which she had told MPs did not exist, was published in the Guardian.
Rudd’s resignation on Sunday evening came as pressure over the Government’s handling of the Windrush scandal continued to mount, not least from the Guardian’s own coverage.
Yesterday the paper published a story on its website that revealed a leaked 2017 letter from Rudd to Theresa May in which the Home Secretary told the Prime Minister of her intention to increase deportations of illegal immigrants by 10 per cent.
The letter said: “In particular I will be reallocating £10m… with the aim of increasing the number of enforced removals by more than 10 per cent over the next few years: something I believe is ambitious, but deliverable.”
It appeared to show that Rudd was aware of targets for deporting illegal immigrants, despite having told the Home Affairs Committee at a hearing on Wednesday that the Home Office “does not have targets for removals” and “… that’s not how we operate.”
On Friday The Guardian’s exposure of a leaked six-page memo directly referencing deportation targets, which copied in Rudd, forced the former Home Secretary to defend herself on Twitter.
She said: “I didn’t see the leaked document, although it was copied to my office as many documents are. I wasn’t aware of specific removal targets. I accept I should have been and I’m sorry that I wasn’t.”
The Guardian’s reporting of the Windrush scandal has exposed how the Government’s tough stance on immigration has resulted in legal migrants who were invited to post-war Britain refused NHS treatment and facing deportation.
Editor Kath Viner has said Rudd’s resignation following the paper’s coverage “marks an important moment for independent, investigative journalism, demonstrating how it can hold power to account in order unequivocally to change people’s lives for the better”.
Guardian journalist Amelia Gentleman has worked for six months on the Windrush scandal, including breaking the news that the Home Office had discarded the landing cards of Windrush migrants.
Guy Hewitt, high commissioner for Barbados, said in a letter to the Guardian: “‘Never was so much owed by so many to so few.’
“This wartime quote by Winston Churchill, who was also British prime minister during the first waves of West Indian migrants to Britain, is to me the most apt way of expressing the gratitude of the Caricom high commissioners and the West Indian diaspora for the incredible work by Amelia Gentleman on the issues confronting elderly, Caribbean-born, long-term, UK residents.
“In less than a week, a story that was for too long begging for attention became front-page news and in the process won the hearts of a nation and engaged the mind of a government. I want to recognise this seminal work by Amelia in almost single-handedly leading the charge.”