WATCH: Shadow minister says Theresa May could be accused of ‘racism’ over Windrush scandal
Shadow cabinet minister Dawn Butler has said Theresa May could personally be accused of "racism" for her role in bringing forward policies that led to the Windrush scandal.
The Shadow Women and Equalities minister said the Prime Minister had “presided over racist legislation” which was reminiscent of the “no blacks, no Irish, no dogs” abuse from decades ago.
The Labour MP also branded the Government as a whole “institutionally racist” for introducing policies which she said “disproportionately” affect minority groups.
Her claim heaps more pressure on ministers amid the Windrush scandal, in which some migrants who came to Britain from the Caribbean before 1971 have been threatened with deportation by the Home Office and lost access to public services.
When asked if the Prime Minister could herself be accused of racism, she told Sky’s Sunday with Paterson: “Yes. She is the leader, she’s presiding over legislation that is discriminating against a whole group of people who came from the Commonwealth, who suffered racism when they came over - the no ‘blacks, no Irish, no dogs’ - and now they’re having to relive that trauma all over again because of Theresa May."
Ms Butler added: “She’s not going to get let off the hook on this and this has to be redressed as quickly as possible. Just saying stuff isn’t good enough - I need to see action and I need to see action quickly.”
Ms Butler said the buck stopped with Mrs May rather than her successor as Home Secretary Amber Rudd, because the Prime Minister had presided over the "hostile environment" approach to immigration, including sanctioning controversial 'Go Home' vans in 2014.
Asked whether the Government could be accused of being “institutionally racist”, Ms Butler responded: “I think they can."
She added: "It was only when I was reviewing the papers of the Stephen Lawrence case, the tribunal, and looking at what the description of institutional racism is, and as I’ve been reading and listening to all of the stories around Windrush, it occurred to me that the policies that this Prime Minister - and it lays only at the door of Theresa May - that her policies where she wanted to create a hostile environment, has actually created an environment that disproportionately affects and discriminates people of colour and therefore could be classified as institutionally racist.
"And I don’t say that lightly, I say that with a very heavy heart.”
The shadow minister also accused the Government of “pivot and distraction” by blaming the decision to scrap landing cards on Labour - despite former Home Secretary Alan Johnson admitting on Thursday that the policy had been signed off under a Labour government in 2009.
Her intervention contrasts with Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry, who earlier called on Amber Rudd to resign but refused to say if the Government was either racist or responsible for a racist policy.
“I don’t like to bandy around these things, I’d rather stick to the evidence," MS Thornberry told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show
But she added: “I’m happy to say there is something that is rotten at the heart of government.”