Former Downing Street adviser Nick Timothy has written a column in the Telegraph today, claiming that Theresa May is not responsible for the infamously loathsome ‘Go Home’ vans sent out by the government in 2013 because, allegedly, she was against them and was on holiday when they were approved.
That does not appear to be borne out by other available information. It’s not clear exactly when the pilot project was ‘approved’, but Theresa May was certainly around in the run-up to their use – and neither objected publicly then, nor at any time during the four weeks or so of the scheme’s operation, nor indeed at any time afterward.
As James Dolman observed on Twitter, May was in observable action in the run-up to the scheme’s launch and during the project:
As @quiddany responded, she was also on show in the House of Commons:
As the excellent Zelo Street has pointed out, the back-office part of the project went on for a further two months, so Mrs May had ample time to be aware and act, if she was so inclined.
Home Office also refutes
A statement in 2016 by a Home Office minister also makes clear that Theresa May was fully informed of the project. Then-Immigration Minister Robert Goodwill told the Commons that, while his predecessor actually signed off the project, May was well aware:
The pilot to use the AdVans referred to was authorised by former immigration minister Rt. Hon. Mark Harper MP. The former Home Secretary, Rt. Hon. Theresa May MP was informed of the intention to pilot this campaign.
Of course, Theresa May was not merely ‘informed’. As Harper’s boss, she had the right to cancel the pilot – and the Theresa May who, just a year earlier had boasted of making the UK a seriously ‘hostile environment’ for illegal immigrants, was never likely to veto such a project.
The efforts to rehabilitate Theresa May for her vileness toward immigrants generally and about the ‘Windrush generation’ in particular, are already underway. They can’t succeed – you can’t spin straw into silk, after all – but they are most certainly underway.
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