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THE DEATHS of three members of the Windrush generation after they were deported from Britain has sent shock waves through the Commonwealth, shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said today.
The scandal caused by the Home Office’s hostile environment “lives even while some of its victims have died” in the Caribbean, she said as she warned of damage to this country’s global reputation.
Jamaican Foreign Minister Kamina Johnson-Smith revealed last week that three British citizens wrongly deported to the Caribbean had died before they could be repatriated.
Speaking in the Commons during her urgent question, Ms Abbott told MPs: “This summer I was in the Caribbean and I would say to this House that ministers should not underestimate the concern the Windrush issue has caused throughout the Commonwealth.
“We’re preparing to leave the EU, but, at a time we should be strengthening our trading links with Commonwealth partners in Africa, the Caribbean and south Asia, are ministers aware of how much damage the Windrush scandal has caused?”
Ms Abbott said the Home Office’s confirmation during the summer recess that historical reviews into removals and detentions had identified 18 people who it is believed could have been wrongfully removed or detained ought to “shame” ministers.
She added: “Worse, we didn’t learn this from our own government. This intelligence comes from the foreign minister for Jamaica. Left to this government’s own devices, we might never have learnt of these deaths.”
Home Secretary Sajid Javid was present but did not answer.
Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes highlighted the Africa trade mission of Prime Minister Theresa May, who, as home secretary, was the architect of the hostile environment, and defended the government’s “proactive” response to the Windrush scandal.
Ms Nokes also passed the buck onto the previous Labour governments by saying their policies had also had an effect.
“It is notable ... people from the Windrush generation who have had wrong done to them, for which we have apologised and will continue to apologise, have been affected over decades and, of the 164 individuals identified so far by this review, [Ms Abbott] might like to reflect that in the region of half of them were impacted prior to 2010.”
Lamiat Sabin is the Morning Star’s Parliamentary Reporter.
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