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Jess Phillips defends Amber Rudd in Windrush row

The Labour MP lays the blame for Home Office troubles at the door of Prime Minister Theresa May

Labour MP Jess Phillips has leapt to the defence of under-fire Amber Rudd after she faced calls to quit over the Windrush scandal – and has placed the blame on Prime Minister Theresa May.

The Home Secretary insisted that the Home Office did not set immigration removal targets during a parliamentary select committee on Wednesday before it was revealed that “local internal” targets were used the following day.

I actually feel for Amber Rudd because she has had to clear up the mess that has been left by Theresa May

Rudd scrapped them shortly after but MPs have been calling for her head as the Home Office came under scrutiny for the circumstances that led to many Caribbean migrants battling to stay in the UK.

But Birmingham Yardley MP Phillips told The Big Issue that the buck must stop with May and not Rudd after her own spell as Home Secretary under David Cameron between 2010 and 2016.

“I actually feel for Amber Rudd because she has had to clear up the mess that has been left by Theresa May,” said Phillips, who took to the streets of Birmingham on Thursday to experience life as a Big Issue vendor.

“She has inherited a Home Office with a culture of bullying and mistreating migrants and a system that is broken and corrupt. It’s Theresa May’s doing and she has left Amber with a sticky wicket. I’m not sure that Amber Rudd resigning would make all that much difference, especially when I think she is more liberal than she is being allowed to show. I look forward to seeing her sort it out, not just for the Windrush generation but for all the migrants who are caught up in this.”

May apologised during Prime Minister’s Questions on April 18, insisting that the government was “genuinely sorry for any anxiety that has been caused”.

Jess Phillips
Labour MP Jess Phillips has laid the blame for the Windrush scandal at Theresa May's door

“Those who arrived from the Caribbean before 1973 and lived here permanently without significant periods of time away in the last 30 years have the right to remain in the UK,” she added. “As do the vast majority of long-term residents who arrived later. I don’t want anybody to be in any doubt about their right to remain here in the United Kingdom.”

Rudd had already said sorry a day earlier as well as announcing the creation of a new team, staffed by 20 officials in her own department, in a bid to ensure that Commonwealth-born long-term UK residents will no longer find themselves classified as illegal immigrants. She has since waived application fees for those affected.