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Theresa May: Home Office had deportation targets when I was Home Secretary

Emilio Casalicchio

3 min read

Theresa May dealt a fresh blow to Amber Rudd today as she revealed targets to boot illegal immigrants out of Britain were in place during her own time as Home Secretary.

The Prime Minister refused to take responsibility for the “hostile environment” that was ramped up while she ran the Home Office and instead took an apparent swipe at her predecessor.

Ms Rudd dramatically resigned last night after admitting she “inadvertently” misled parliament over whether the Government worked to deportation targets for illegal immigrants.

She originally told the Home Affairs Committee no such targets existed, before being forced to row back and then scrap the regional targets held by immigration enforcement officials.

Breaking her silence since Ms Rudd quit her post, Mrs May said the ex-Cabinet minister had shown “integrity, compassion and selflessness” as she weathered the storm of the Windrush scandal.

But pre-empting questions over the history of deportation targets, she added: “When I was Home Secretary, yes, there were targets in terms of removing people from the country who are here illegally.

“This is important. I think if you talk to members of the public they want to ensure that we are dealing with people who are here illegally.”

The bold admission, in a pooled broadcast clip, will deal further damage to Ms Rudd, who faced charges she was not in control of her brief at the Home Office.

A Downing Street spokesman meanwhile added: "The Prime Minister was aware of targets when she was Home Secretary.

“There had been targets in place for a number of decades in relation to a succession of Home Secretaries who had set a priority for tackling illegal immigration and ensuring the UK's immigration rules are properly enforced.

“Decisions on how to measure performance were taken by officials and included the setting of performance metrics, including targets.

“But once the PM ceased being Home Secretary, she would not have received any operational detail of that kind.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said Mrs May would have to come clean about her tenure as Home Secretary, during which she cultivated the so-called “hostile environment” for illegal immigrants.

The regime led to Windrush migrants - who came to the UK from Caribbean nations between the 1940s and 1970s - being caught up in the crackdown and facing threats of deportation or losing their rights to work, housing and healthcare.

“Amber Rudd has been a human shield for Theresa May and she’s now gone,” Mr Corbyn said in a pooled clip.

“Theresa May now has questions to answer… about what she actually did as Home Secretary and what she has said.

“Because she was presiding over, in her terms, the creation of a ‘hostile environment’.”

However Mrs May refused to be drawn on whether she should be taking responsibility for the harder regime.

It was announced this morning that Sajid Javid has replaced Ms Rudd as Home Secretary, with James Brokenshire replacing him in the Communities department. 

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