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LABOUR frontbencher Dawn Butler launched a blistering attack today on Theresa May’s “racist” legislation that caused the Windrush deportations scandal.
Asked if Ms May could be accused of racism, shadow women and equalities secretary Ms Butler told Sky News: “In my own personal opinion — and I’m speaking as myself as Dawn Butler, the daughter of Jamaican parents — I’m saying that she has presided over racist legislation that has discriminated against a whole generation of people from the Commonwealth.
“Her policies, that she has implemented, have disproportionately affected people from the Commonwealth and people of colour.
“Therefore, if you look at what institutional racism is, that’s what her policies are currently delivering.
“So Theresa May has to not only reconsider her position, but she has to reconsider her policies — and an apology is not good enough.”
Many in the Windrush generation — who arrived from the Caribbean between the late 1940s and 1970s on their parents’ passports — have found their existence in Britain coming under heavy scrutiny after Ms May’s establishment of a “hostile environment” for immigrants, with rules requiring proof of near-continuous residence.
A man’s death last month was attributed by his mother to stress over his residency, and many others have spoken about receiving threats of deportation and being told they need a visa to re-enter Britain after going abroad.
Today Labour’s shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry said there was something “rotten at the heart of government” as she slammed the Home Office’s approach to immigration.
She said: “People have died, people have lost their jobs, lost their futures. People working in the National Health Service all their lives suddenly lose their jobs.
“It could not be worse and yet the Home Secretary thinks ‘I can apologise and it will be all right’. Well, it won’t be. I really think she should quit.”
The Equality and Human Rights Commission has warned in a leaked letter that plans to force voters to show photo ID at polling stations may discriminate against ethnic minorities.
The new rules are being piloted on May 3 in local elections in Bromley, Gosport, Swindon, Watford and Woking. If authorities claim they have proved successful in reducing voter fraud they will be enforced nationally from 2020.
The rules would also hit the young and old, those with disabilities and transgender people, the watchdog claims in the letter to Cabinet Office minister David Lidington. It says such groups are less likely to have a passport or driving licence, leaving them unable to vote.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said that the EHRC’s warning shows that the government is responsible for the “same hostile environment all over again, shutting our fellow citizens out of public life, treating communities who made Britain their home as second-class citizens.”
He added: “It’s disgraceful and it must be brought to an end.”
A study by the Electoral Commission found 28 allegations of identity fraud at a polling station in 2017 among almost 45 million votes cast.
Shadow minister for voter engagement Cat Smith said: “This intervention from the Equality and Human Rights Commission is further proof that this government is determined to undermine our democracy.
“Labour wants everyone’s voice to be heard at the local elections, no matter someone’s background, which is why we are calling on the government to abandon these damaging pilots.”
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