Windrush: ‘The buck stops with Theresa May’

Lesley Laird MP has joined 126 constituents in backing a petition calling for compensation for people penalised in the recent Windrush scandal.

The petition, which is being debated in Parliament today (Monday), also called for an amnesty for minors who came to Britain as part of the Windrush generation.

The move follows recent coverage of cases of Windrush immigrants who, despite living and working in Britain for decades, were denied NHS treatment or even deported for failing to produce evidence of citizenship.

Until the new Immigration Act 2014 came into force, all long-standing Commonwealth residents were protected from enforced removal by a specific exemption in the 1999 Immigration and Asylum Act.

It has since emerged that landing cards were destroyed at the Home Office when Theresa May held the post of Home Secretary. 

The debate also follows Amber Rudd’s resignation as Home Secretary at the weekend after the Home Office confirmed deportation targets did exist, despite Rudd’s earlier claim.

Lesley Laird, who represents Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, said: “Resignation was the only honourable course of action for Amber Rudd but the buck really stops at Theresa May who, as former Home Secretary, introduced the policy which led to this scandal.

“Theresa May has no ‘human shield’ now to distance herself from the shameful way Britain has treated the Windrush Generation in this sorry saga.

“We welcomed immigrants to these shores to rebuild our post-war state, only for the government to treat them as illegal aliens decades later. 

“We all remember the ‘go home’ vans that were sanctioned when Theresa May was in charge of the Home Office and now we see the fruits of her labour – British citizens being reported to authorities when changing bank accounts or homes; losing their jobs, being denied NHS treatment or even being deported.”

She added: “If this Government was serious about learning from its mistakes it would ditch its ‘hostile environment” culture and policies, of which Windrush is just one example.

“Since the roll-out of Universal Credit, rent arrears have soared by more than £600,000 here in Fife; a correlation borne out in other regions where the benefit has been introduced.

“Be in no doubt – this government is clearly targeting the very people who are least able to defend themselves.”