This morning on the BBC’s Marr show, Tory party chair Brandon Lewis shamelessly attempted to cover for beleaguered Home Secretary Amber Rudd’s lies over deportation targets – which have combined with the revelation of the impact of racist Home Office policies and the miseries they have inflicted on ‘Windrush generation’ citizens to put Rudd and her boss under huge pressure to resign.
Lewis attempted to maintain the fiction that the Home Office targets, whose existence Rudd had denied, were an ambition, a ‘key performance indicator’ – anything but a target.
But the reality slipped out through the gaping cracks in the fiction – and Rudd’s opposite number, Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott, pulled no punches about the consequences:
Brandon Lewis’s attempt to save the Home Secretary’s career by hiding behind semantics is insulting for the people who have been affected by the Tories’ heartless policies
Beneath the spin, he let the truth slip and sealed her fate. Amber Rudd knew of the targets she pretended didn’t exist
The Home Office was fully aware that lives were being ruined as a result of their ‘hostile environment’ but pressed ahead anyway. It’s time for Rudd to go.
Below is a transcript of the key slip-up:
Andrew Marr: “But you were talking to her about what’s going on?”
Lewis: “Absolutely, we were talking about the general work we were doing to increase the focus we had, and to increase the number of returns of illegal immigrants.”
AM: “Going back to the original memo, they said progress had been made on a path towards the 10% increased performance on forced returns, which we promised the Home Secretary earlier this year. That is a target promised to the Home Secretary?”
Amber Rudd was asked about general targets in the Home Affairs Select Committee, before being asked about regional targets. She could not have been answering a question about the “localised, regional internal” KPIs, as Brandon Lewis claimed, because she told the committee she had not watched the previous evidence.
Here is the relevant exchange from the Home affairs Select Committee of 25 April 2017:
Chair: “Targets for removals. When were they set?”
Rudd: “We do not have targets for removals.”
Chair: “But you did?”
Rudd: “What are you referring to?”
Chair: “We have just heard in the previous evidence that in the Home Office there are regional targets for net removals.”
Rudd: “I did not hear the testimony. I am not sure what shape that might be in. If you are asking me if there are numbers of people we expect to be removed, that is not how we operate.”
Lewis himself has come under fire for claiming no one with a right to be in the UK legally was detained.
He made this claim despite in November being written to by Labour’s Emma Reynolds about the case of a Jamaican grandmother who was sent to Yarl’s Wood and threatened with deportation despite having lived in the UK for 50 years.
Lewis’ own position must now be considered untenable for his dishonesty – but his slip on this morning’s Marr must surely have ended Rudd’s career on the Tory front bench.
Rudd had announced that she would appear – again – in the House of Commons tomorrow to answer questions about information that came to light revealing her claims to have been lies.
Lewis’ admission this morning has stripped any excuse she might make of even the illusion of credibility. As Diane Abbott said, it’s time – and well past time – for Rudd to go.
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