Home Secretary’s decision to U-turn on Windrush reforms branded ‘slap in the face’
The Home Secretary has U-turned on reforms designed to prevent another Windrush scandal in a move described as a “slap in the face” by campaigners.
Suella Braverman quietly announced that she had ditched a commitment to establish a migrants’ commissioner and also rowed back on calls to boost the powers of the independent chief inspector of borders and immigration (ICIBI).
She also abandoned a plan to hold reconciliation events with those affected by the Windrush scandal, which saw British citizens wrongly threatened with deportation, stripped of their jobs, benefits or even their homes as they didn’t have the right paperwork.
Those affected were people who moved to the UK between the 1940s to 1970s, mostly from Caribbean countries.
The name refers to HMT Windrush, which brought workers from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and other islands to the UK to help solve post-war labour shortages.
Patrick Vernon, convenor of the Windrush 75 network, who organised the Windrush anniversary celebrations who helped organise the anniversary celebrations, said: “For the Home Secretary to be backsliding on Government commitments to set right the injustices of the Windrush scandal – particularly in this anniversary year – is a slap in the face for those communities.
“Suella Braverman should make a clear commitment to right the wrongs of the Windrush scandal.”
Wendy Williams, the solicitor who carried out the Windrush Lessons Learned Review in 2020, said she was “disappointed” by the decision.
Former home secretary Priti Patel had originally accepted all 30 of the recommendations made by Ms Williams, including the three ditched on Thursday.
Ms Williams warned last year that without a migrants commissioner, the Home Office risked undermining its efforts to improve policy “as well as the efforts to rebuild its reputation”.
David Neal, the current ICIBI, said it was a “missed opportunity” not to look at increasing the powers associated with his role.
“A role and remit review would have provided an opportunity to assess whether the level of resourcing provided to the inspectorate is appropriate,” he said.
Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper blasted the U-turn as “yet another betrayal of the Windrush generation”.
She said: “Four years after Wendy Williams’s review, just eight of its recommendations have been fully implemented and now some have been dropped altogether, including important safeguards to strengthen the borders inspectorate.
“The Home Office had an opportunity to put its apology to the Windrush victims into action, but it is tragic that the Home Secretary hasn’t learned the lessons of that appalling scandal.”
Mr Lammy, who wrote a landmark report on racial discrimination in the justice system, said: “Black Britons detained and deported by their own government are once again being spat on by the Conservative government.
“Suella Braverman’s animosity towards our shared multicultural future is trauma-inducing. Our country’s brave Windrush victims denied justice yet again.”
Ms Braverman made the announcement in a written statement to the Commons, declaring that she had “decided not to proceed” with three of Ms Williams’ recommendations “in their original format”.
She said she would instead look to “shift culture and subject ourselves to scrutiny”.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “We are making progress towards the vast majority of recommendations from Wendy Williams’ report, and believe there are more meaningful ways of achieving the intent of a very small number of others.
“Through this work, we will make sure that similar injustices can never be repeated and are creating a Home Office worthy of every community it serves.”