Windrush leaves an ugly scar on the Tories, but Labour’s lies on migration are utterly shameful, writes PETER OBORNE
Amber Rudd, without doubt, demonstrated incompetence and misled Parliament. As a result of her departure from the Cabinet, British public life is in a slightly purer condition today.
And yet the baying Left-wing mob which had been calling for her sacking have shamefully misrepresented the events that led to her resignation. They claim her policies were at fault rather than her lamentable execution of them.
That is why her Labour critics — from Corbynistas such as Diane Abbott to Blairites like Yvette Cooper — are calling for a change of the Government’s immigration policy as a result of the Windrush scandal. These calls are either mistaken or a deliberate attempt to deceive the public.
The truth is that there was relatively little wrong with the immigration policies of Amber Rudd, or of her predecessor as Home Secretary, Theresa May.
Amber Rudd, without doubt, demonstrated incompetence and misled Parliament. As a result of her departure from the Cabinet, British public life is in a slightly purer condition today
Of course, everyone agrees that the Windrush generation immigrants have been treated abominably and the fiasco leaves an ugly scar on the Tory Government. Quite rightly, ministers are working overtime to undo the damage.
However, the Rudd debacle has allowed Labour to conflate treatment of those Caribbean immigrants who were welcomed here with attitudes towards illegal immigrants.
It is impossible to stress enough times that the Windrush generation were legal immigrants.
On the other hand, it is estimated that there are more than one million illegal immigrants living in Britain. This figure was given to a Commons select committee last October by a former director-general of immigration enforcement.
Although he argued that ‘no one could ever remove’ them, he added: ‘There needs to be seen that there is a risk that if you don’t abide by the rules, and you overstay or you commit crimes, there is a consequence and a real risk of being removed.’
Last week’s revelation that at least 27,000 have been arrested in the past four years gives some idea of the enduring scale of the problem.
Illegal immigrants include failed asylum-seekers who refuse to leave Britain and foreigners who have sneaked in by evading border controls.
The Government’s policy to curb illegal immigration is correct. Any responsible government of any country would do the same.
Stopping illegal immigration is both morally right and popular, as well as being in the best interests of those immigrants here legally.
For many illegals have obtained access to public services — of which there are limited resources — such as the NHS, schools, roads and welfare payments.
The British people are a decent lot, and have always welcomed immigrants to these shores. We value fairness. That is why there was such outrage over the treatment of the Windrush generation.
Two weeks ago, at Prime Minister’s Questions, Jeremy Corbyn insinuated that Mrs May had called for a ‘hostile environment’ for all immigrants. Note, not illegal immigrants
The same attitude applies to citizens from other EU countries who have come here to work under EU freedom of movement rules. They have been told repeatedly by ministers that they will be allowed to stay after Brexit, and the Government is taking action to ensure they will not suffer.
Reassurance has been given, too, to asylum-seekers who come here to seek aid and protection from countries caught up in civil war and violence.
But illegal immigrants, just like those involved in any other kind of illegal activity, must be stopped and, if possible, once here, deported. Apart from anything else, this is often in their own interests.
People in this country illegally are commonly brought here on false promises by people-smugglers who steal their money or employ them as slave labour.
Some are forced into prostitution or become victims of brutal gang-masters.
Theresa May made all this very clear in her letter accepting Ms Rudd’s resignation. She said that illegals and over-stayers ‘should expect to face the full force of the law and know that they will be removed if they will not leave this country voluntarily’. She also paid tribute to those here legally and who have ‘enriched the life of our country’.
That said, her talk, as Home Secretary, of creating ‘a hostile environment’ for all illegal immigrants could have been more felicitously phrased.
But the policy she was seeking to implement was reasonable and fair. It has, however, been grossly misrepresented.
Two weeks ago, at Prime Minister’s Questions, Jeremy Corbyn insinuated that Mrs May had called for a ‘hostile environment’ for all immigrants. Note, not illegal immigrants.
Yesterday, too, the BBC failed to make the difference clear, referring to Sajid Javid, Ms Rudd’s successor, as saying he ‘disowned the “hostile environment” tag attached to the Government’s migration policy’. Note, again, not its policy towards illegal migration.
I suspect that Sajid Javid will get to grips with the Home Office and ensure that existing policies are carried out in an honest and competent way
Mrs May has never called for a ‘hostile environment’ for all immigrants. Quite the contrary. She supports a compassionate approach to immigrants seeking a new life in Britain.
For her part, Ms Rudd resigned for ‘inadvertently’ misleading Parliament.
On that basis, for deliberately misleading Parliament, at the very least Mr Corbyn should, if he was a man of honour, correct the record.
Indeed, Labour’s entire immigration policy is a total mess. Anyone who doubts this should search out footage of yesterday’s interview with Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott by Piers Morgan on ITV’s Good Morning Britain.
He asked her time and time again what her policy was towards illegal immigrants.
Did she agree with Boris Johnson that there should be an amnesty? Should they be deported?
Ms Abbott was unable to come up with any kind of answer. All she could do was to say again and again that she wanted a new approach. However, no clue was offered what that approach should be.
It has to be said that, for all her errors, Amber Rudd was an infinitely more reassuring presence at the Home Office than the prospect of Diane Abbott in the post — which would most likely be the case if Labour wins the next General Election.
Ms Rudd’s resignation is a personal tragedy but it ought not to lead to any change in Government policy.
I suspect that Sajid Javid will get to grips with the Home Office and ensure that existing policies are carried out in an honest and competent way.
Very few — on the Right or Left of politics — will want him to change policy, turn a blind eye to illegal immigrants and open our borders to uncontrolled mass immigration.
The ineluctable fact is that immigration is a sensitive matter, and rightly so.
In the 13 years between 1997 and 2010, net foreign migration totalled 3.6 million. And the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show that 578,000 migrants arrived here in the year to September 2017.
Most of these came during the Blair years as part of a policy, according to a speech-writer for New Labour ministers, to transform Britain into a new kind of society where British attributes would have no greater status than any other culture.
Anyone making a new life in a foreign country encounters a huge challenge. They are faced with a new language, a new culture and the need to take on new responsibilities. For such reasons, the British Government goes to great lengths to help immigrants adjust.
This kind of assimilation is much, much harder for illegal immigrants — many of whom are obliged to work in the black economy, don’t learn English and sometimes turn to crime.
It is in this context that ministers want to tackle illegal immigrants — not all immigrants.
Sajid Javid, whose father moved to Britain from Pakistan and worked as a bus driver in Bristol, will understand this better than most.
As Home Secretary, he must stick to the policies that he has inherited from his predecessors Amber Rudd and Theresa May.
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