Amber Rudd resigns – what does this mean for the Home Office, Brexit…and the PM?

So Amber Rudd resigns tonight.

In some ways it’s remarkable that she didn’t go sooner. I mean, I’ve seen ministers resign because of a snow storm or be sacked for eating a pie. Here was a Minster staying in office when her department had ruined the lives of British citizens.

She couldn’t survive the leak of a letter from her to the Prime Minister outlining an “aim” of increasing the number of enforced removals by 10%. An aim is sufficiently within the ball park of a target to constitute the most serious offence a minister can commit – misleading Parliament so she’s gone before she had to face the opposition tomorrow.

However, unless the immigration system is going to be completely dismantled and rebuilt from scratch to make it treat people with dignity and respect, it doesn’t really matter who the Home Secretary is.

If I were Theresa May, I’d split the Home Office up into one department that deals with nationality, citizenship, asylum and immigration and another that deals with crime and security. The culture of those two parts needs to be very different.

I thought much better of Amber Rudd before she made that awful Conference speech in which she talked about companies having to report how many immigrants they employed. I had hoped that she would quietly roll back some of the hostile environment nonsense that has been so damaging. I’d like to think that she is a better person than her inability to sort out the mess she inherited at the Home Office would suggest.

I am slightly worried about the balance in the Cabinet. Rudd was the strongest pro-Remain voice in the high level Committee that deals with Brexit and would no doubt have been sticking up for staying in the Customs Union. Whether she will take up that cause on the back benches remains to be seen.

I just about choked on my hot chocolate when the BBC’s Clive Myrie referred to her resignation as a “devastating personal tragedy.” I rather think that the lives of the Windrush generation British Citizens and others that have been ruined by the “hostile environment” policy more closely fit that description. That said, this presumably takes Rudd out of the running to replace Theresa May when the time comes.

Ultimately, though, Rudd’s departure leaves Theresa May exposed. She can’t now blame anyone else. It’s not like the Labour years when there was a bit of a revolving door at the Home Office – 6 incumbents in 13 years, 3 in the last 4 of their time in office. May was there for over 6 years and made a bad system even more harsh and inhumane.

That’s certainly the angle that our Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey has taken tonight:

He added:

It’s clear that Amber Rudd has ended up, at least partly, being the fall guy to protect the Prime Minister. Theresa May must face questions now given these dreadful failures largely took place under her watch as Home Secretary.

Theresa May will face renewed questions about her performance as Home Secretary and PM. In the last six months, she has los four Cabinet Ministers – Fallon, Green, Patel and Rudd. If the papers are to be believed, quite a few others are preparing to quit over Brexit if the outcome isn’t disastrous enough for the country.

It’s the sort of chaos that makes the last 18 months of Labour’s time in office look like the picture of serenity.

However, the most important people in all of this, the victims of this country’s dreadful immigration system, are unlikely to see any improvement in their situation. For many, the devastating tragedy continues.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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30 Comments

  • Lorenzo Cherin 30th Apr '18 - 3:02am

    Unable to sleep and saw this and agree with every word.

    The most obvious reason she needs to go is the leak of the letter.

    The suggestions here are good for reform and reorganisation.

    This is a really hideous episode in the increasingly sorry ongoing story of our national politics.

    We need to sharpen up as a party and be mainstream so when these issues emerge we are listened to as this party is the only game in town.

  • Richard O'Neill 30th Apr '18 - 3:30am

    I think anyone who has spent time talking to voters will know there is an overt hostility to illegal immigrants that seems to be overwhelmingly popular ( including countless members of the Windrush generation and their children).

    Rightly or wrongly there seems to be popular support for making a hostile environment for them. Yet this issue has been so damaging to the government because the people persecuted are so obviously British and non illegal. And because the government has just ignored the fact for so long despite warnings.

    I’m still not sure why Rudd has to go though. Misleading Parliament? Is that still genuinely a resignable offence? I would have been happier if she’d stayed and vigorously spearheaded the effort to put this right. Now this issue will likely disappear from the news now the media and opposition have got their scalp.

  • Time for the Liberal Democrats to fight the xenophobic policies that have caused so much poison across the UK.

  • Venetia Caine 30th Apr '18 - 5:39am

    It’s very easy to balance the Cabinet once more: sack B Johnson, whose wrongdoings in office far outweigh those of Rudd.

  • …………………………..In some ways it’s remarkable that she didn’t go sooner. I mean, I’ve seen ministers resign because of a snow storm or be sacked for eating a pie. Here was a Minster staying in office when her department had ruined the lives of British citizens…………

    Caron, but I thought Vince didn’t want her to go until ‘she’d had her say’? I’m still trying to balance that with your “didn’t go sooner”

  • William Fowler 30th Apr '18 - 7:43am

    I thought there was an immigration minister so why does that dept not deal with, er, y’know, immigration? I seem to recall reading a while back that the people doing the immigration assessment (in the Home Office not immigration dept naturally) were basing their results on the attractiveness of the applicants rather than the merits of the case so probably this mess is just the tip of the iceberg.

    It does show just how good Mrs May is at holding on to power as the Home Office usually ends careers (Boris Johnson will probably be offered the job). I agree this dept needs to be cut down to manageable chunks. Sir Vince made the point this morning on TV (he seems to be popping up everywhere at the moment) that there was little chance that the Home Office would be able to handle the registration of 3 million EU citizens so maybe start there with a new dept which could then expand to include non-EU cases once sorted out.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 30th Apr '18 - 8:03am

    @expats: It’s not difficult. Vince and I aren’t the same person. And I’m not necessarily disagreeing with him. I do think it was strange that she didn’t go last week but as she hadn’t, there was no reason when I wrote that yesterday morning that we shouldn’t wait to see what she had to say tomorrow. My view has always been that there is little point in her going unless the Home Office is actually going to change.

    There were more documents coming to light through yesterday and apparently the officials couldn’t assure that there aren’t any more. That’s why she went before facing Parliament today.

  • Caron Lindsay 30th Apr ’18 – 8:03am…

    Caron, I wasn’t trying to score a cheap point (although, after re-reading it, I apologise for the impression)…It was just, when the opposition parties were united in demanding she go, Vince mentioned ‘lynch mobs’ and wanted to give her more time…He came across, as on so many things, a fence sitter…Your position t is far more forceful and far more in keeping with the most important people in this whole affair; the victims…

    I am sorry that, on the 2014 legislation encouraging this whole sorry matter, only 3 of our MPs voted against it…Again, a belated thank you to them…

  • Tristan Ward 30th Apr '18 - 8:36am

    With luck Amber Rudd’s proEuropeanism will come out on the back benchers. She could do much good there.

  • Arnold Kiel 30th Apr '18 - 8:43am

    The Windrush-story is the horrible tip of an iceberg, and Rudd just a small cog in this xenophobic machine promoted by UKIP, built and run by the Torys, but oiled by widespread public support. Remember the quietly dropped Dubs-amendment? Probably not, nobody cared.

    It is acceptable to fight irregular (I am refusing to use the term illegal) immigration, but the only sensible and humane way to do so is to concentrate all efforts on recent arrivals. That requires effort. Picking unsuspecting law-abiding residents with patchy documents after half a lifetime is cheap, mean and cruel.

    Now comes the interesting part: the EU-immigration-system in the making. As all crucial Brexit-decisions endlessly delayed. What is there, who will take over, and when will we see something?

    I had already given up on Rudd as a Brexit-moderating force. She was too much of a careerist to shape policy on the one subject where the PM herself is the most radical Brexiter. Hopefully, a derailed EU-immigration-policy will add to this Government’s Brexit paralysis and its consequent demise.

  • Andrew Daer 30th Apr '18 - 8:58am

    Interesting how the misleading of Parliament is not so important to us Lib Dems when it is a staunch remainer who has to resign ! (I would have preferred her to stay)
    However, the more troubling issue here for me is the long period between The Guardian breaking this news, in November last year, and the sudden ‘shocked response’ from Amber Rudd many months later. Presumably the Home Office have decided The Guardian is no longer an important member of the Fourth Estate. In the end it seems to have been David Lammy’s powerful rhetoric that finally prodded them into action. I’m pleased that MPs can have this effect, but it remains a worry that a newspaper of world renown can be ignored by the government for so many months. In the case of Cambridge Analytica The Guardian had to get Channel Four News on board with a rather tabloid style sting involving hidden cameras, in order to grab attention.
    Regarding the Caron/Vince difference of opinion, I like the way Vince distanced himself from the rabid baying of Labour hounds – they were scenting a kill mainly for political gain rather than from principle, and he behaved with more dignity – but I suspect he also didn’t want to see the loss of a remainer in a senior post. However, the truth is that shameful behaviour of the Home Office over the West Indian immigrants meant Amber Rudd had to go, regardless of what she saw in the way of memos or emails.

  • William Fowler 30th Apr '18 - 9:02am

    “I had already given up on Rudd as a Brexit-moderating force. She was too much of a careerist to shape policy on the one subject where the PM herself is the most radical Brexiter. Hopefully, a derailed EU-immigration-policy will add to this Government’s Brexit paralysis and its consequent demise.”

    With the two main parties pro-Brexit and Mrs May’s determination to hang on to power at all costs, if Brexit does stall then the best we can hope for is a second vote/referendum that will only be won if simultaneously EU offers a better deal to stay in… then you might finally see, a couple of years later, a Left-leaning govn fortuitously somewhat limited by EU laws rather than the unrestrained Marxism promised by Labour if we are actually out of the EU.

  • One of the interesting things I noted during this sorry saga was when Amber Rudd spoke in the full House well over a week ago. In that statement she said that ‘the state’ had let the Windrush generation down.

    What a revelation that was. It wasn’t Amber, it wasn’t Theresa, it wasn’t the Tory Party… it was “The State”, as if some malevolent – to quote Mr Fowler – ‘unrestrained Marxism’ had infiltrated the free market Tory Party.

    She’s gone from the Cabinet and quite likely – at the next election, from Hastings. The next question is why St Theresa kept so stum and let Amber swing in the wind……. when she knew perfectly well there were targets – because she established them in the blessed Coalition. The question for Mrs May (and for the ex Lib Dem Ministers who were in the Home Office at the time) – is ‘what did you know and when ?’

  • Bill le Breton 30th Apr '18 - 9:19am

    On this we have reaffirmed people’s prejudices about us from the Coalition years.

    We reappeared as the Tories’ poodles.

    So opponents of the Tories are reminded NOT to trust us with their vote and Tories will continue to assume that they can continue to vote for their party with impunity.

    No wonder we are mired at 7% and failing to attract the young and vital campaigners who are presently using their creativity to power Labour (and Green) campaigns.

    Just look at http://novaramedia.com/ to see the difference in quality, energy and effectiveness in campaigning on issues like immigration.

  • Richard Underhill 30th Apr '18 - 9:30am

    When Margaret Thatcher wanted a job done she sent for Ken Clarke, which is why he has experience of so many different ministries.
    Would Theresa May have the confidence to do the same? He is a former barrister and could return to the prison service as Lord Chancellor or directly to the Home Office.
    If the PM wants someone who can be trusted to deal honestly with EU citizens living in the UK, who could possibly be better than her learned friend?

  • Bill le Breton 30th Apr '18 - 9:34am

    “Who knew what, when?” David Raw as usual hits the nail on the head.

    On April 17th, here, https://www.libdemvoice.org/the-cruelty-and-insensitivity-of-the-home-office-summed-up-in-a-single-booklet-57228.html , I pointed out that a key clause from 1999 legislation, which had provided longstanding Commonwealth residents with protection from enforced removal, was deleted from the 2014 Immigration Act and asked who voted for that?

    The Coalition mechanics had a key concept. When there was disagreement between ourselves and the Tories, either with a Department like the Home Office where we had a minister or in those Departments where there was no Lib Dem, the Lib Dems could refer the issue up to a committee to resolve disputes.

    Did we use this mechanism over the issue of ‘hostile environment’ and did we use it over the removal of the above mentioned legal safeguard for longstanding Commonwealth residents?

    If not did we therefore vote with the Tories on this and why?

    We should be told.

  • @ Bill le Breton Quite right, Bill.

    No wonder Sir Vincent was hesitant about ‘joining a lynch mob’ – because he couldn’t be sure who would end up dangling from the tree. Caron’s headline ‘Amber Rudd resigns – what does this mean for the Home Office, Brexit…and the PM?’ There should have had an addendum…. ‘and the Lib Dems ?’

    As you say, sadly, part of the Coalition legacy is a public perception of the Liberal Democrats…. and the consequent inability of the current leadership to hit hard against a Tory Government when in opposition. How many years, and under what leadership, it will take to alter that perception it is hard to say.

  • Richard Underhill 30th Apr '18 - 11:41am

    Bearing in mind who the previous Home Secretary was the current Prime Minister needs someone loyal and obedient, whereas the Ministry needs someone who will stand up for them in Cabinet. The appointment of Sajid Javid meets the first criterion ideally, but as for the second one??? Even when he is interviewed by a journalist he looks like a rabbit in the headlights. His comfort zone is probably in the Treasury.
    The Tories do not care much about local government, if they did they would do it differently. Many Liberal Democrats do. Sajid Javid is not a rocket scientist. He may have difficulty understanding the twists and turns of the history of Home Office policy.

  • Sajid Javid does not have a good record in dealing with minority needs (Grenfell) nor in dealing with a crisis… TATA Steel (goes on holiday)
    Still, with ‘Failing’ Grayling as an alternative, I suppose he’s the best she could do…

  • Richard Underhill 30th Apr '18 - 12:26pm

    The practical difficulties of enforced removal need to be understood. Illegal entrants who have not previously claimed anything else are unlikely to have provided evidence of nationality or of any other destination.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 30th Apr '18 - 1:13pm

    David Raw

    You as ever keep on at the Tories, the ministers, the Liberal Democrats for coalition failings, yet cannot see the state as anything other than that. You are wrong. The staff of many departments are placemen and women, they are appalling they are petty they are a disgrace, yet you are unable to criticise them even when they are senior and very powerful, not doing the bidding, doing the deciding.

    You also very enthusiastically backed Sir Vince and Jo when those like me were saying Norman has cleaner hands and Layla cleaner , or we should change the system and have a leader who is not an mp.

    If your solution as appears here, is denigration or apologia, we as a party should pack up, that leaves those of us who loathe both the development of antisemitism on the left and hard infiltration of the old or new Labour I knew, homeless…

  • Lorenzo Cherin 30th Apr '18 - 1:16pm

    ps

    I said this as a genuine friend and colleague who cares for an in my view mainstream party to be the alternative to the extremism of left and right

  • Lorenzo, you said at 3.02 am that you couldn’t sleep.

    Perhaps you’d better go and have a nap now and then you’ll see the world is a much better place than you thought.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 30th Apr '18 - 5:46pm

    David

    You match what I said well with a good comment, it is that attitude though which is mine, when you are down on our party. I am thinking of you and your operation, good thoughts..

  • Ian MacFadyen 1st May '18 - 1:25pm

    I agree with Caron, except on breaking up the Home Office. History shows break ups and reorganisations seldom work, because they side step the main issue and those concerned spend time managing the change and securing their own positions, instead of dealing with the problems the caused the break up and reorganisation. Breaking up the Home Office – which has been tried before unsuccessfully – would consign the plight of the Windrush generation and immigration reform generally to the back of a room full of back burners. Now, putting the Home Office in special measures and sending in commissioners with a tight reform remit could be a novel approach, but probably wouldn’t work either.

  • Richard Underhill 1st May '18 - 6:10pm

    It is worthwhile to read the exchange of letters between the Home Secretary and the Prime Minister. It started with a telephone call from Rudd to May which we do not have, but the letters show the PM correcting the work of her successor, by drawing a distinction between illegal entrants and overstayers.
    Consider for instance someone who arrives at an airport or seaport or channel tunnel and claims asylum in UK jurisdiction. Such a person cannot legally be removed at this stage. The asylum claim must be considered by a suitably trained caseworker, and if refused, cannot legally be refused while an appeal is waiting for consideration by what is nowadays called an immigration judge. If the appeal is dismissed and if there is no further appeal the failed asylum seeker becomes an overstayer and becomes subject to administrative removal.A deportation order is not appropriate. If removed from the UK she/he can apply for a visa to return to the UK. Trying to turn such people into illegal entrants is unnecessary.
    Compare someone who arrives at a UK port and presents a forged passport to the immigration Officer, by, for example, tampering with the passport by substituting a different photograph. This risks a prison sentence for attempting to deceive an Immigration Officer. If the deceit is successful the de facto illegal entrant may be caught at a later stage and served with illegal entry papers. Because of the risk of absconding detention on immigration grounds prior to removal is a possibility, but an appeal for bail is also possible.
    Imagine a journalist asks a minister “How many illegal entrants are there in the UK?” and the minister answers that “by definition we do not know.” If the interviewer does not understand the processes further stupid questions may be asked and the minister would escape democratic scrutiny for a while, to the frustration of both.
    In criminal cases deportation orders are drafted in great detail by trained caseworkers, checked by senior caseworkers and submitted for ministerial signature. The key difference between administrative removal and deportation is that the deportee cannot legally return to the UK unless and until the condition is waived. Such a waiver is rare and would be after a period of ten years. Attempting to return to the UK in breach of a deportation order would lead to deportation for that reason.

  • Richard Underhill 1st May '18 - 6:15pm

    I have said nothing about nationality which can be more complicated. The staff are bases in Liverpool. Not all countries will accept their own nationals back unless they are provided with overwhelming evidence. A Labour government abrogated the Statelessness Convention by an amendment to the Immigration Rules.

  • Richard Underhill 3rd May '18 - 8:32am

    At PMQ on 2/5/2018 the Speaker called Amber Rudd, to widespread tension. She spoke about responsibilities for countering terrorism, etcetera. In other words the job is bigger than immigration, which is obviously true. She wished her successor good luck and finished on a positive note, not a rebel at this point.

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