Windrush Part Two: Brilled and Grilled

by Michael Patrick O'Leary

This article appeared in Ceylon Today on Thursday May 3 2018


Sir Alan Duncan, foreign office minister, was brave, foolhardy or arrogant enough to allow himself to be interviewed by Andrew Neil (known to Private Eye as Brillo Pad). Duncan had the gall face to try to ingratiate himself with a flippant approach.  Duncan blathered about “administrative cock-up”, “quirk of history”.

Brillo would have none of that. “Not a quirk, it happens because of an uncaring government that’s prepared to lock up people in a detention centre who’ve lived here all their lives … you took away their right to work, you took away their right to welfare, you took away their right to a pension. How were they meant to live?” He finally impaled Duncan with: “The government has required people to produce four documents for each year that they have been living in the UK. Could you produce such documents?” The little man admitted that he couldn’t. Most of the people who were threatened had lived in the UK and paid taxes for decades. They were firmly in the system. Big Brother could easily prove their bona fides without documents.

It Weren’t Me Guv

Baroness Warsi claims to accept some responsibility because she was part of the government, but it was not really her fault. What could she do? Warsi said that there was bitter opposition in cabinet to some of the policies May pursued while she was Home Secretary between 2010 and 2016. “We were wedded to unrealistic targets, targets that we still haven’t met unfortunately a decade on, and yet we continue to remain wedded to targets. And what we ended up with was, I think, the unintended consequences of the policy we are now implementing.”


In spite of what Baroness Warsi said, current Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, told MPs: “We don’t have targets for removals”, adding “that’s not how we operate”. Her chief immigration official Glynn Williams also told MPs such targets did not exist. A 2015 report soon emerged showing there were targets. “We were gobsmacked by what she said, and that she stuck to her guns,” a Home Office source told the Guardian. “It is inconceivable that Amber Rudd did not know about the targets.” At one point, Rudd was telling the Commons she would scrap removals targets that she had the day before said did not exist.

Rudd had leadership ambitions and had been trying to undermine Theresa May and construct an image of herself as the good guy. She herself has been embarrassed by a document obtained by the Guardian in which she set out her “ambitious” plan to increase removals and focus officials on “arresting, detaining and forcibly removing illegal migrants” while “ruthlessly” prioritising Home Office resources for the programme.

You Just Can’t Get the Staff

Rudd  tried to blame her civil servants, portraying them as faceless bureaucrats who misinterpret the spirit of the government’s intentions. Dave Penman is the head of the FDA, the trade union for senior civil servants. He says: “The Home Office is not a sentient being, so this was implicitly a criticism of her staff. If she’s serious about understanding why this might be the case, she would do better to consider the political strategy and rhetoric adopted by her government over many years, rather than suggesting it is individual civil servants who have lost their focus.”

Unintended Consequences

The Guardian on April 29 published a private letter from Amber Rudd to Downing Street sent in January 2017 in which she sets an “ambitious but deliverable” target for an increase in enforced deportations. She said that she was refocusing work to achieve the “aim of increasing the number of enforced removals by more than 10% over the next few years”. Home Office sources told the Guardian that Immigration Enforcement has been working all year to reach the target of 12,800 enforced returns in 2017-18. They were worried about failing. To meet the goal, they needed to deport 250 people a week, but were “only” deporting about 225 a week. Poor show! “At the Home Office we work in a target culture. The civil service is completely target-based. That’s all we do. It is shame-faced nonsense for Amber Rudd to say otherwise.”

Rudd has now done the “decent” thing and resigned but she is still lying in her resignation letter to the prime minister and May is supporting her lies.