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Amber Rudd under fresh pressure as leaked memo suggests she was told of deportation targets last year

3 min read

Amber Rudd is facing further pressure after a leaked memo suggests she was made aware of targets for immigration removals nearly a year ago - days after telling MPs they did not exist.


The Home Secretary was reportedly sent the “summary of performance” in June 2017, which sets out that officials planned “a target of achieving 12,800 enforced returns in 2017-18”.

It goes on to directly name Ms Rudd, adding that enforcement was on a “path towards the 10% increased performance on enforced returns, which we promised the home secretary earlier this year”.

The memo, seen by the Guardian, was reportedly sent by the head of the Home Office’s Immigration Enforcement agency, Hugh Ind, to Ms Rudd and Brandon Lewis among other senior officials and civil servants.

Responding to the latest revelations, Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott renewed her call for Ms Rudd to step down.

“Amber Rudd either failed to read this memo, and has no clear understanding of the policies in her own department, or she has misled Parliament and the British people," the Labour frontbencher said. "Either way, she needs to accept responsibility and resign immediately.”

The Home Office's “hostile environment” policy towards migrants has been under greater scrutiny in recent days in the wake of the Windrush scandal, and Ms Rudd has faced calls to resign.

The latest revelation will likely spark further probes into what Ms Rudd knew, after she told the Home Affairs Select Committee on Wednesday that such targets did not exist and were not part of how the department operates.

Her evidence was promptly contradicted by the head of the ISU union, which represents immigration officials, whose head, Lucy Moreton,said she was “bemused” that Ms Rudd would not know that targets were in place.

That comments resulted in the Home Secretary telling MPs in the Commons on Thursday that the Home Office did in fact have deportation targets, but saying that she did not know about them.

"CRACKING THE WHIP"

On the latest revelations, one Home Office source told the paper they were “gobsmacked” that Ms Rudd “stuck to her guns”, adding: “It is inconceivable that Amber Rudd did not know about the targets.”

Another says the briefing was one of several to have gone around the Home Office in recent months relating to its target culture.

It sets out that 12,503 enforced returns were achieved in 2016-17 and that immigration enforcement has set a target of achieving 12,800 enforced returns in 2017-18.

It adds that they have “exceeded” their target of assisted returns, by beating the aim of 1,200 with 1,581.”

Elsewhere Ms Rudd is claimed to be responsible for “cracking the whip” on two major policies.

The memo adds that ministers supported the “extra effort” being put into Operation Perceptor and Operation Gopik, with the former based on arresting and deporting people on the same day, while the latter targets EU nationals who have three criminal convictions.

A Home Office source adds: “These programmes are being run by civil servants, but the policies are being driven by politicians.”

“The pressure comes from the top, and Amber Rudd is at the top. She is the one cracking the whip.”

Labour MP David Lammy, who has been highly critical of the Government's handling of the Windrush scandal said Ms Rudd should already have stood down.

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