Jeremy Corbyn has questioned whether Boris Johnson could have been deported to the United States because he “dabbled in class A drugs” and “conspired” to beat up a journalist.
The Labour leader provoked a furious reaction from the Conservative benches after asking the Prime Minister if there is “one rule for young black boys from the Caribbean and another for white boys from the United States”.
New York-born Mr Johnson said he believed Mr Corbyn had demeaned himself and had conflated the Windrush generation with what he described as foreign national offenders being deported to Jamaica.
Some 50 people were originally expected to be on a chartered deportation flight to Jamaica that left the UK at around 7.30am on Tuesday.
But it took off with 17 on board after a last-minute legal battle between the Government and human rights campaigners.
Officials and ministers have said all were foreign criminals who committed serious offences, although campaigners, supported by 150 MPs, say they came to the country as children, are “British in every meaningful way”, and some were sentenced for one-time drug offences when they were young.
Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions, Mr Corbyn asked: “Does the Prime Minister think that someone who came to this country at the age of five and was the victim of county lines grooming and compelled to carry drugs, released five years ago and never re-offended deserves to be deported?”
Mr Johnson replied: “I think the whole country would agree that, while I cannot comment on individual cases, it is entirely right that foreign national offenders should be deported from this country in accordance with the law.”
Mr Corbyn said the Government has “learned nothing” from the Windrush scandal, adding: “This cruel and callous Government is trying to mislead the British people into thinking it’s solely deporting foreign nationals who are guilty of murder, rape and other very serious offences.
“This is clearly not the case. Take the example of a young black boy who came to the UK aged five and is now being deported after serving time for a drugs offence.”
To groans from the Tory benches, Mr Corbyn added: “If there was a case of a young white boy with blond hair who later dabbled in class A drugs and conspired with a friend to beat up a journalist, would he deport that boy – or is it one rule for young black boys from the Caribbean and another for white boys from the United States?”
Mr Johnson said: “I think quite frankly that Mr Corbyn demeans himself and by the way besmirches the reputation of the Windrush generation who came to this country to work in our public services, to teach our children in this country, to make lives better for people in this country.
“He has no right to conflate them with those foreign national offenders that we are deporting today.”
The Prime Minister’s press secretary told reporters: “What the public will see is the leader of the Labour Party defending serious and violent criminals.”
He added: “We continue to believe that seeking to remove serious foreign national offenders is the right thing to do.”
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister’s former colleague Rory Stewart joined the criticism of the Jamaican deportations, saying that more care was needed over including people who are “in almost every way British”.
“The key question is getting the knowledge of the right people, not deporting people who have been living in London since they were babies,” the former Tory MP told PA.
“Of course for someone who is a criminal and who genuinely is not British, it makes much more sense for them to serve their prison sentence in another country.
“But we need to be careful that we are not picking up people who are, in almost every way, British – those that have been living here since they were small babies but don’t quite have the right paperwork.”