Belfast Telegraph

Amber Rudd's departure leaves Theresa May more exposed than ever before

Labour wants the PM to come clean about her role in deporting illegal immigrants to Britain when she was the Home Secretary

Former Home Secretary Amber Rudd with PM Theresa May
Former Home Secretary Amber Rudd with PM Theresa May

She had to go. Amber Rudd's resignation over what she herself described as "the Windrush scandal" became inevitable as the evidence mounted remorselessly against her.

And now the pundits are asking whether this sorry story could trigger the prospects for an early General Election - possibly in the autumn. Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has spoken about the odour of a decomposing Government.

This event has highlighted the inability of the Government to handle an internal problem - the way they did tackle it was shambolic, to say the least.

But, worse than that, the unwelcome spotlight is now trained on Theresa May herself. Opposition MPs are now demanding she makes a Commons statement on her role in this whole affair when she was Home Secretary.

The departure of Rudd - the Prime Minister's protection shield - has made Mrs May more vulnerable than ever.

The Government's campaign to protect Rudd before she resigned was laughably ridiculous.

Fellow ministers, who were wheeled out one by one to say what a brilliant minister Rudd was, sounded insincere and without conviction. Everyone could see through that.

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And the statement from Downing Street that the Prime Minister had full confidence in her now looks like a blatant untruth.

Rudd's claim that she was unaware of targets set for the deportation of illegal immigrants merely served to demonstrate that she had lost control of the Home Office and did not know what went on - inexcusable.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister has picked Sajid Javid to replace Rudd.

The Government is now beginning to look in serious disarray.

Meanwhile, Labour smell blood. Having helped to depose of Rudd, they are now setting their sights on the prize scalp of all: the Prime Minister herself.

In short, her Government is in dire trouble.

n Meanwhile, the exposure of the Windrush affair could scarcely have come at a worse moment for the Government on the cusp of this week's local government elections.

The Tories' prospects at these elections were bleak enough, anyway, and these disclosures have made a bad situation that much worse.

Many ethnic minority voters, who might have otherwise been expected to vote Conservative on Thursday, will certainly, at the very least, think twice before doing so - or, more likely, not vote at all for them.

After all, a picture has been painted - probably not inaccurately - that the Home Office is going is own merry way leaving departmental ministers with virtually no control over it; a very bad situation indeed.

The Tories do look as though they are in a bad way, with reports of Cabinet disunity and frustration. These included claims of a spat between the Prime Minister and her Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson - a claim which, as you might expect, Downing Street has fiercely denied.

But there is a cynical saying in Fleet Street: never believe a story until it has been officially denied.

So, we know where we stand with that. But my prediction is that there will be no Tory victory parades after next Thursday's poll.

Is the House of Lords getting too big for its boots?

The votes of this unelected chamber for Britain to remain in the customs union after Brexit is probably at total variance with what the elected House of Commons wants - certainly, the Government wants a clean break from the union, so the UK can indulge in international trading without any strictures from Brussels.

If this situation does develop much further, we could be seeing an ugly war of words between the Commons and Lords, which some have warned could even degenerate into a constitutional crisis.

The role of the House of Lords is to check what emanates from the Commons, not to do battle with them.

But, unless wiser counsels prevail, that is where they could be heading.

So, stand by for an unseemly political confrontation.

A major change has come over Donald Trump since he became US President: his handshake.

Before he was voted into the White House, Trump had an aversion to shaking any hands at all - it was a phobia of catching germs.

Nowadays, however, his handshakes have become almost grotesque in their length and technique.

He grips the hand of his "victim" with the ferocity of a shark's teeth plunging into your flesh and with his tiny hands pulls the person he is welcoming towards him, almost causing them to lose their balance. Then he seems reluctant to be the first to let go.

Both Macron and Trudeau, leaders respectively of France and Canada, have suffered at his hands.

He also holds hands like a young suitor. He held Theresa May's hand coming down the White House staircase (no surprises there) and virtually dragged Macron into the limelight, before indulging in some bizarre air kissing and hugs. A very strange man.

Meanwhile, it is good news he is coming to Britain. But bad news that influential people, like Speaker John Bercow, are so unwelcoming in their attitude.

Bercow may think he is being clever and brave; in fact, he is simply being uncouth and insulting to a man who was elected by a majority of US voters to the White House.

I trust the organisers of this event in July will not allow themselves to be influenced by pipsqueaks.

Belfast Telegraph


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