Amber Rudd allies accused of 'turning fire' on Home Office staff over her exit
Labour has accused allies of Amber Rudd of trying to “smear and blame” Home Office staff for her dramatic exit from the Cabinet this week.
Senior Conservatives have pointed the finger at Home Office immigration and enforcement chief Hugh Ind for Ms Rudd’s disastrous performance before MPs last week in which she wrongly claimed the department did not have targets for the removal of illegal immigrants.
Leaked emails passed to The Sun and the Evening Standard show that Mr Ind emailed Ms Rudd to say “there were no targets” both ahead of and during the stormy Home Affairs Committee session last week.
The immigration chief is also said to have sent her a follow-up message saying “there are no removal targets for immigration enforcement officers, regional or national”.
Former chancellor and close ally of Ms Rudd George Osborne - who now edits the Evening Standard - said the “extraordinary” emails should prompt resignations at the Home Office.
A Number 10 aide told The Times: “Who was briefing her? How could they not at least have watched the previous testimony?”
Meanwhile, Tory MPs are also said to be angry that separate memos that prompted Ms Rudd’s downfall were leaked to The Guardian.
One senior Conservative said: “There is a big feeling civil servants decided to do her in.”
But Labour has accused the Conservatives of seeking to pass the buck to officials for the row that engulfed Ms Rudd, who was replaced at the Home Office yesterday by Sajid Javid.
Shadow Cabinet Office Minister John Trickett urged the Prime Minister to personally intervene and distance herself from the “cynical attempts” to attack staff over the fiasco.
He said: “Now that Theresa May can no longer blame her Home Secretary for the Windrush mess, the Tories are turning their fire on to the civil servants.
“The roots of the Windrush scandal go back to Theresa May’s time as Home Secretary – she was the architect of it. So, the Prime Minister must come forward with a straight and comprehensive account of what she knew of the cruel ‘hostile environment’ policy which was targeting British citizens who have lived here for generations."
“Theresa May said in 2004 that she’s 'sick and tired' of ministers who blame officials when things go wrong. She must condemn outright these cynical attempts by her officials to smear and blame public servants for decisions taken by Tory ministers.”
The row came as former Home Office minister Norman Baker - who served under Mrs May as a Liberal Democrat in the coalition government - this morning claimed officials in the department had faced a “culture of fear” during the Prime Minister’s time at Marsham Street.
“It was a culture of fear, of intimidation for the civil service in particular, who were shouted out - literally - by her special advisers… She got her special advisers to do it, I think largely,” he told the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show.
“It was also one where there was a fixed determination to meet the Conservatives’ migration target which I thought, and we thought as Lib Dems, was ludicrous.”
Former civil service head Lord Kerslake - who ran Whitehall from 2012 to 2015 - said the government’s “arbitrary and damaging” immigration policies had been “hotly contested” by officials at the time.