Skip to main content

Tory apologies are meaningless while they stand by the ‘hostile environment’

OFFICIAL expressions of sorrow, sympathy and assurances of recompense to the children of Windrush generation are meaningless because the government stands by its legislation that sparked their problems.

Justice Secretary David Gauke made this clear yesterday in rejecting calls for Home Secretary Amber Rudd to resign, explaining that, “when it comes down to it, the central policy is right.”

The central policy in this case is the Immigration Act 2014 passed by the coalition government — yes, the cuddly Liberal Democrats Vince Cable, Nick Clegg and David Laws in bed with David Cameron, George Osborne and Theresa May — to remove rights established in 1973 from Caribbean-born British citizens.

Gauke admits to “very significant failures in terms of how this has been implemented,” just as Laws claims a bit of “common sense ” could have obviated subsequent problems.

They’re both wrong. The Act has played out exactly as the united yellow and blue conservatives intended because they were warned during parliamentary debates in 2013 of its inevitable consequences.

They pursued their goal, believing there were votes to be garnered by creating a “hostile environment” for people born in other countries and wishing to settle here — even British citizens.

As John McDonnell has noted, Labour MP David Lammy exposed the mean motives and likely fallout from the Act, which is why he dismisses government solicitude now as “crocodile tears.”

McDonnell and Lammy were among a small band of Labour MPs who rebelled against the front-bench decision to abstain over this unjust and racist law.

They were joined by Diane Abbott, Kelvin Hopkins, Fiona MacTaggart, Dennis Skinner and Jeremy Corbyn, who shared teller duties with Jonathan Edwards of Plaid Cymru.

Principled opposition came also from the Green Party’s Caroline Lucas, George Galloway of Respect, Liberal Democrats John Leech, Sarah Teather and David Ward, Scottish nationalists Stewart Hosie, Angus MacNeil and Pete Wishart, Northern Ireland SDLP members Mark Durkan and Margaret Ritchie, together with Elfyn Lloyd and Hywel Williams of Plaid Cymru.

None of Labour’s current crop of self-styled moderates, progressives or centre-lefts impelled to invoke items of conscience against Jeremy Corbyn on an all but daily basis could summon the enthusiasm to reject this callous, racist proposal then.

Shadow women and equalities minister Dawn Butler is absolutely correct to nail the Prime Minister as responsible for implanting institutional racism at the core of her government.

To downplay her role and restrict resignation calls to current Home Secretary Amber Rudd would be illogical.

Both backed the 2014 Immigration Act, both signed up to the “hostile environment” for immigrants and each is responsible for the tragedies and injustices to which that approach has led.

May talks about compensation, “where appropriate,” for those who fell foul of her compulsory enrolment of landlords, benefits staff, employers and others as immigration officials.

How do you compensate people for being denied the right to work, housing, urgent medical treatment or benefits they are entitled to?

What can make up a refusal to allow British people to visit relatives in the Caribbean or vice versa, sometimes for an emotional final reunion before an anticipated death?

What level of recompense could make it all better for Sentina Bristol whose son Dexter Bristol was found dead in a cold London street after being sacked for not having a British passport which the law wrongly denied him?

The May government’s betrayal of the Windrush children’s fundamental rights cannot be glossed over with some formulaic ritual apology.

Heads must roll and those heads belong to Theresa May and Amber Rudd.


We're a reader-owned co-operative, which means you can become part of the paper too by buying shares in the People’s Press Printing Society.

Become a supporter

Fighting fund

You've Raised:£ 16,507
We need:£ 1,493
1 Days remaining
Donate today