- Amber Rudd has resigned as Home Secretary.
- Rudd was under pressure to quit the Cabinet after numerous leaks indicated that she misled MPs over what she knew about Home Office deportation targets.
- She has also been under fire for her role in the Windrush affair.
- Rudd is the fourth minister to resign in six months.
- She will now return to the backbenches where she could rebel against Theresa May’s Brexit plans.
LONDON – Home Secretary Amber Rudd has resigned from Cabinet following a series of damaging leaks relating to the Windrush scandal which placed her ministerial record under heavy scrutiny.
A Downing Street spokesperson said in a statement on Sunday evening that Prime Minister Theresa May had accepted her resignation following a number of leaks regarding alleged deportation targets used by the Home Office under her leadership.
Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said Rudd had “done the right thing” while many Conservative MPs offered support. Environment secretary Michael Gove, one of the frontrunners to replace her at the Home Office, tweeted that he was so sad about her departure.
I’m so sad about Amber’s departure from government – she was a huge asset – brave, principled, thoughtful, humane, considerate and always thinking of the impact of policy on the vulnerable – I hope Amber will be back soon – we need her
— Michael Gove (@michaelgove) April 29, 2018
Rudd this week told the Home Affairs Select Committee this week that the Home Office did not have targets for removals. She then backtracked and claimed the department had local targets, but said she was unaware of them.
However, on Sunday the Guardian published a letter Rudd sent to May last year in which she boasted about “ambitious but deliverable” targets for deporting illegal immigrants, suggesting she did know about the policy.
And on Friday the Guardian leaked a memo which was sent to Rudd saying that the department had “a target of achieving 12,800 enforced returns in 2017-18,” adding that “we have exceeded our target of assisted returns.”
The issue of deportations has become particularly toxic because of the Windrush scandal, which erupted following reports that numerous Caribbean-born UK immigrants had been harassed, threatened with deportation, and made destitute despite being legally resident in Britain.
In response to the scandal, Rudd told MPs that the Home Office had “lost sight of individuals” and “become too concerned with policy and strategy,” an apparent jab at May, who was her predecessor as Home Secretary.
Shortly afterwards, a leaked private letter sent by Rudd to May – which some suggested was leaked by Downing Street – revealed that the Home Secretary had privately boasted to May that she would give immigration officials more “teeth” to hunt down and deport thousands more illegal migrants and accelerate the UK’s deportation programme.
A bad week for the Home Secretary became worse on Thursday when she hinted that the government would consider keeping the UK in a customs union with the EU after Brexit, which would represent a dramatic shift in official policy. One Cabinet minister reportedly suggested it was evidence that Rudd had “thrown caution to the wind.”
As recently as Friday Rudd insisted that she would not resign, writing on Twitter that “as Home Secretary I will work to ensure that our immigration policy is fair and humane.”
Rudd is the fourth Cabinet minister to quit in six months, following Michael Fallon, Priti Patel and Damien Green. She will continue to serve as MP for the East Sussex constituency of Hastings and Rye.
Rudd campaigned for Britain to remain in the European Union and could potentially be another Tory rebel the prime minister has to deal with in future votes on Brexit legislation. Fellow Remain-supporting Tories including Anna Soubry welcomed her onto the backbenches on Sunday evening.
V sorry that @AmberRuddHR has resigned. She is a woman of great courage & immense ability. Amber will be missed in many ways. We’ll give her a huge welcome on to our back benches. If there is any justice she will soon return to the highest of office. Proud to call her my friend.
— Anna Soubry (@Anna_Soubry) April 29, 2018
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