Jeremy Corbyn has called on Home Secretary Amber Rudd to resign over the Windrush scandal, claiming she had inherited a “failing policy” and made it “worse”.
The Labour leader said the “hostile environment” policies were not having the desired effect, as he challenged Theresa May to explain why she ignored Home Office warnings about potential discrimination caused by the measures.
Mrs May defended the Government’s intention to take action on people in the UK illegally, and vowed that no stone would be left unturned in putting right the status of the Windrush generation.
But Mr Corbyn said Ms Rudd had wanted to harden the “cruel and misdirected policy” when she took over from Mrs May at the Home Office, saying she pledged to do so “ruthlessly”.
“A report last month by immigration officials stated the hostile environment measures were not even having the desired effect,” he told MPs during PMQs.
“The current Home Secretary inherited a failing policy and made it worse. Isn’t it time she took responsibility and resigned?”
Mrs May said people “up and down this country” want to ensure the Government is “taking action against those people who are here in this country illegally”.
“Because it isn’t fair that people who work hard day in and day out, who contribute to this country, who put into the life of this country, are seeing people who are here illegally accessing services in the same way,” she said.
“We are acting to ensure that those people who are here legally are given the support that they need.”
During the heated frontbench exchanges, Mrs May also said the Government was “not ignoring the problems that some members of this generation are facing” after she claimed Mr Corbyn’s questions suggested Labour were “ignoring some of the facts”.
“That is why (Ms Rudd) has set out a special team in the Home Office to deal with their inquiries, not just deal with their inquiries but actively help them to find the documentation to clarify their status,” Mrs May said.
She added: “The problem was that back prior to 1973 when the Windrush generation came here they were not given documents that set out their status – we are now putting that right and we will leave no stone unturned to put that right.”
The Labour leader also pointed to an internal memo from the department in 2014 which said the approach could make it harder for people, such as the Windrush generation, to find homes and “provoke discrimination”.
He asked: “Why did the Home Secretary ignore that memo?”
Mrs May replied: “(Mr Corbyn) talks about a hostile environment – ‘What we’re proposing here will, I think, flush illegal migrants out, we are trying to create a much more hostile environment in this country if you are here illegally’.
“Those are not my words. They are the words of (Liam Byrne) when he was Labour immigration minister.
“And the Labour leader ought to know about this, because (Mr Byrne) sits on his frontbench.”