British home secretary Amber Rudd quits over deportation targets

Evidence had been mounting on paper about knowledge in the Home Office of targets

The British home secretary Amber Rudd has resigned amid outrage over mistreatment of long-term legal residents from the Caribbean who have wrongly been labelled illegal immigrants. Video: Reuters

 

Amber Rudd has resigned as British home secretary amid claims she misled Parliament over targets for removing illegal migrants.

Ms Rudd telephoned prime minister Theresa May to tell her of the decision amid intensifying opposition demands for her to quit.

A No 10 spokesman said: “The prime minister has tonight accepted the resignation of the home secretary.”

Ms Rudd had been thought to be preparing to tough it out, insisting she genuinely did not know about the targets when she gave evidence to the Commons Home Affairs Committee last week.

However, having seen mounting evidence in the paperwork about the extent of knowledge within the Home Office of the targets, she decided she should take responsibility and go.

Ms Rudd had been under increasing pressure with the leak of a letter casting doubt on her denial last week that she was aware of deportation targets.

The private letter from Ms Rudd to Downing Street, in which she sets an “ambitious but deliverable” target for an increase in the enforced deportation of immigrants, was published by the Guardian on Sunday.

The letter, signed by Ms Rudd in January last year, stated she was refocusing work within her department to achieve the “aim of increasing the number of enforced removals by more than 10 per cent over the next few years”.

Rudd had claimed she did not set, see or approve any targets for removals. The former immigration minister Brandon Lewis suggested on Sunday this proposed increase was an ambition rather than a target.

But Home Office sources have told the Guardian that it is “shame-faced nonsense” to claim the department had not been set specific targets in this area, or that these had not been regularly discussed at the highest levels.

Document

The furore was sparked on Friday when the Guardian published details from a separate confidential memo that was sent to Ms Rudd in June last year.

Prepared by Hugh Ind, the director general of Immigration Enforcement in the Home Office, it picked up on the new policy outlined by Ms Rudd in her letter to Ms May.

The document stated that his agency had “set a target of achieving 12,800 enforced returns in 2017/18 – this will move us along the path towards the 10 per cent increased performance on enforced returns which we promised the home secretary earlier this year”.

Bracing themselves

Home Office sources have told the Guardian that Immigration Enforcement has been working all year to reach the target of 12,800 enforced returns in 2017-18.

They have been bracing themselves to acknowledge to ministers that the agency has failed to do so. To meet the goal, it needed to deport 250 people a week, but it has only been able to remove about 225 a week.

“At the Home Office we work in a target culture,” said a source. “The civil service is completely target based. That’s all we do. It is shame-faced nonsense for Amber Rudd to say otherwise.” – Guardian/Press Association