Jeremy Corbyn took Theresa May and her government to task at today’s Prime Ministers Question Time (PMQs). The prime minister attempted to dodge responsibility for her part in the Windrush scandal, but in moments, Corbyn took her excuses apart.
The Windrush scandal
After the Second World War, labour shortages meant there was plenty of work in UK industries and the public sector. So parliament passed the British Nationality Act in 1948 and gave British citizenship to all people living in Commonwealth countries. This law granted them full rights of entry and settlement in Britain, and the first arrivals were 492 immigrants from the Caribbean. The ship HMT Empire Windrush brought them here and also gave them their nickname – ‘the Windrush generation’:
All across the Caribbean, for many, England was the mother country. When she put out the call for nurses and teachers to come help rebuild after the war they came to assist and start new lives. That they should be turfed out after 50 odd years hard work and graft is a disgrace.
— David Harewood (@DavidHarewood) April 12, 2018
While home secretary, Theresa May passed an immigration bill which undid the rights of the Windrush generation. Jeremy Corbyn was one of a handful of Labour MPs who voted against the bill at the time.
Don't think it's been mentioned nearly enough that when the Tory/LibDem Coalition brought in the 2014 Immigration Act which caused the Windrush Scandal, only 18 MPs had the courage to vote against. They included David Lammy, Diane Abbott, John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn.
— Ally Fogg (@AllyFogg) April 18, 2018
Jeremy Corbyn in 2013. I reckon he is a Time Lord tbh. pic.twitter.com/kgBhiD7QOM
— К🌹 #GTTO 🎄🎁 (@SherbetK13) April 18, 2018
People have lost their jobs, been denied life-saving treatment from the NHS, and even been deported. It was only after the scandal made headlines that May and her home secretary Amber Rudd were forced to U-turn. But people are still being deported, and those who have already been deported face an almost impossible journey home.
Theresa May’s role
It later emerged that the Home Office had deliberately destroyed the registration slips of Windrush citizens. This has made it impossible for many to prove their citizenship. But May laid the blame at Labour’s door, claiming it was decided under the Brown government in 2009. It took mere moments to fact check this as false.
Home Office Tues, 5pm: Decision to dispose of Windrush 'registration slips' was taken by UK Border Agency in 2010.
PM tells MPs, Weds 1210pm: Decision was taken by Labour in 2009.
PM's spokesperson, Weds, 1240pm: "Operational decision was by UKBA"ie not by Lab ministers.
— Alan Travis (@alantravis40) April 18, 2018
A Point of Order by @DawnButlerBrent has just confirmed that Jeremy Corbyn was correct at #PMQs, and Theresa May misled Parliament today. The #WindrushGeneration records were destroyed under a Tory Government in 2010, when Theresa May was Home Secretary. She is an utter disgrace.
— Paul Sweeney MP (@PaulJSweeney) April 18, 2018
Jeremy Corbyn’s response
The Labour leader was in no mood for May’s excuses, saying:
This is a shameful episode, and the responsibility for it lies firmly at the prime minister’s door.
Her pandering to bogus immigration targets led to a ‘hostile environment’ for people contributing to our country. It led to British citizens being denied NHS treatment, losing their jobs, homes, and pensions, thrown into detention centres like criminals and even deported. Vital historical records shredded and ministers blaming officials…
Isn’t the truth… that under her the home office became heartless and hopeless?
And doesn’t she now run a government that is both callous and incompetent?
Responsibility for this shameful episode lies firmly with the Prime Minister. pic.twitter.com/S48dgyfkVM
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) April 18, 2018
Theresa May will be hoping she doesn’t pay the price for this at the local elections on 3 May.
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