Hostile environment at the Home Office

29th April 2018


Amber Rudd and Theresa May – colluding to hang on to their jobs

In any other government at virtually any other time Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, would be heading for the backbenches, her feet barely touching the ground.  It should have been enough that she has a blind spot to the growing Windrush scandal, which has seen legitimate residents of the UK threatened with deportation or refused entry back into the country.  Rudd however has denied that the Home Office had any deportation targets one day then, upon ‘discovering’ that they did the next day, she decides to abolish them.  Closing the stable door after the horse has bolted perhaps?

If these scandals were not enough Rudd’s paper thin narrative unravels even further with evidence produced by The Guardian that she was copied into internal memos from her department, advising on progress being made against the targets for deportations, targets she denied knowing anything about!

The memos are not even remotely ambiguous.  One indicates that progress has been made on the “path towards the 10% increased performance on enforced returns, which we promised the home secretary earlier this year.”  Sources inside the Home Office, quoted by The Guardian, claim that the department was tasked to achieve a 10% increase in the number of people being removed from the UK every year.  Better still, the target was set by Rudd personally!  The source went on to say,

“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.”

In the cut and thrust of political debate calls for sackings and resignations can become routine.  In this instance we have a Secretary of State who is at best exposed as incompetent, at worst she has deliberately misled the House of Commons.  As Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary, Diane Abbott, has said,

“Amber Rudd either failed to read this memo, and has no clear understanding of the policies in her own department, or she has misled parliament and the British people.  Either way, she needs to accept responsibility and resign immediately.”

The fact that Rudd continues to hang on is an indication of the weakness of Theresa May and the precarious majority of her government.  As the previous Home Secretary, May is implicated in much of the Windrush debacle herself, not to mention the notorious “hostile environment” for illegal immigrants policy, of which she was the perpetrator.  Keeping Rudd in place is akin to using the present Home Secretary as a human shield, lest May’s failings in the post are examined even more closely.

May lacks the authority to tackle any of the big players in her Cabinet.  In spite of the wafer thin majority she has in her Hastings constituency, Rudd still qualifies as a big player and key ally for May.  The regular indiscretions and lapses of discipline on the part of Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, regularly go unpunished as May desperately tries to keep the pro and anti Brexit wings of her Cabinet flying in the same direction.

Rudd’s position will also appeal to the xenophobic tendency at the grass roots of the Tory Party and undoubtedly plays to the ultra right views of the DUP in Northern Ireland, who continue to prop up May’s flagging administration.

With local elections fast approaching this week, where the Tories are likely to lose seats and control of many Councils, May has even less room for manoeuvre.  A high profile sacking or resignation would reinforce the view that her government is little more than a coalition of chaos.

In spite of the evidence uncovered by The Guardian, the BBC have continued to report the story as if Rudd was unaware of the Home Office targets.  The line taken has been that of Cabinet colleagues rallying to support Rudd, with an oleaginous Michael Gove wheeled out to suggest that no blame can be ascribed to Rudd as, in spite of being Home Secretary, she could not possibly have known what was going on.

Rudd is apparently going to clarify matters in the House of Commons on Monday (30th April).  Quite what device she will come up with to justify keeping her job is anyone’s guess.  It is clear to all and sundry however that the only reason she is hanging on to her job at all is that the Prime Minister is desperate to hang on to hers.



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