Amber Rudd: felled by claims, counterclaims, leaks and denials
Amber Rudd Amber Rudd: felled by claims, counterclaims, leaks and denials
In the Windrush row, Ruddâs confusion over the more arcane matter of targets for illegal immigrants was her nemesis
- Home secretary Amber Rudd quits as immigration crisis grows â" politics live
When Amber Rudd agreed to appear in front of political journalists at a Westminster lunch last week, it was an opportunity to demonstrate her leadership credentials.
But by the time the event actually came around the fallout from the Guardianâs reporting on the Windrush scandal was in full flow and she was, as she put it, âjust thinking about staying in the gameâ.Amber Rudd resigns hours after Guardian publishes deportation targets letter Read more
She had already had a hellish week involving several appearances at the dispatch box, a brutal session at the hands of the home affairs select committee and what felt like countless apologies.
But while much of the anger directed at the home secretary over the preceding days had been a result of the mishandling of the Windrush generation of migrants, it was her confusion over the rather more arcane matter of targets for deporting illegal immigrants that eventually brought her down.
The key moment in Ruddâs dramatic fall from grace was when she was summoned to explain herself â" and her department â" in front of the committee last Wednesday.
Alm ost as an afterthought, committee chair Yvette Cooper asked about earlier evidence from the immigration officersâ union about targets for the number of people who should be deported from the UK.
âWe donât have targets for removals,â Rudd replied, kicking off the series of claims and counterclaims, leaks and denials, that eventually led to her departure.Amber Rudd letter to PM reveals 'ambitious but deliverable' removals target Read more
The next day it emerged that immigration officials in her own department had been given targets after all. She was summoned to the Commons to clarify. âI was not aware of them,â she insisted.
By Friday, her claims were unravelling after a secret internal Home Office document boasting of the targets in 2017 was leaked to the Guardian. Damningly, Rudd had been copied in.
More than eight hours after the Guardian approached the Home Office with details of the memo â" as speculation swirle d around Westminster about her future â" she finally responded in a series of defiant late-night tweets.
The home secretary insisted she had not seen the leaked memo, even though it had been sent to her office and that she wasnât aware of the specific removal targets. âBut I accept that I should have been and Iâm sorry that I wasnât.â
She promised to make a fresh statement to the Commons on Monday about the affair. But if Rudd thought that was the end of the matter she was wrong.
On Sunday afternoon the Guardian published yet another leak, this time revealing that in a letter she sent to Theresa May in January 20 17 she told the prime minister of her target to increase deportations by 10%.
The last line of defence: that she had âan ambitionâ to increase deportations rather than a âtargetâ was broken and it was clear both to Rudd and No 10 that she could not cling on any longer.
May had been relying on her home secretary to protect her own legacy at the Home Office â" including defending her âhostile environmentâ strategy â" as well as her reputation. But keeping her in office became more damaging than letting her go. With her human shield now gone, the prime minister is even more exposed.
Rudd, an ardent remainer, impressed pro-EU colleagues in debates during the referendum campaign â" with one particularly withering putdown of Boris Johnson especially memorable â" an d was subsequently a powerful voice in cabinet for those wanting to stay in the customs union.
But while her absence around the cabinet table, with its delicate balance of remainers and Brexiters, will be keenly felt, she is also returning to the backbenches knowing exactly where all the bodies are buried.
She sat on the Cabinetâs EU withdrawal âwarâ committee, led the governmentâs work on post-departure immigration policy, and was a trusted confidante for those in government, including in No 10, who wanted the lightest touch Brexit possible.
Rudd has been unswervingly loyal to the prime minister so far, but she might not feel so inclined to be on the backbenches.
Less than two weeks ago, the biggest obstacle between Rudd and No 10 seemed to be the question of whether she would hold her seat at the next election. Even at the height of the targets fiasco, many thought she would survive, not least because she retained the support of Tory bac kbenchers, many of whom liked her personally.
Her fortitude in turning up for a television debate during last yearâs general election, which May herself had refused to do, just 48 hours after her father had died won her the respect of MPs from right across the Commons.
Her personal history is that of a woman who would always have intended to reach the top. Her father was a stockbroker, her brother Roland, a leading remain backer and financial PR wizard, and she was married for five years to AA Gill, the late restaurant critic, with whom she had two children. In his columns she was, famously, the Silver Spoon.
Her backstory is typical of many women on the A-list of candidates David Cameron set up to symbolise his modernisation programme: private school, university, a brief career in banking and finance, and a reputation for networking. Richard Curtis, who recruited her to supply extras for Four Weddings and a Funeral, was impressed by how many dukes she k new.
Ruddâs glamour and energy won her the marginal seat of Hastings in 2010 and 2015. After Mayâs arrival in Downing Street, she was one of the ministers who prospered. She proved herself suited to a project dear to Mayâs heart: building a female leadership team. Rudd went to the Home Office. With Johnson in the Foreign Office, May had set up her two most obvious rivals in jobs that nowadays rarely produce prime ministers.
Loyalty is one of Ruddâs defining political characteristics. But she does not fawn, and she is trusted by the people who can influence her future. In the anguished team that ran the 2017 election campaign, Rudd blossomed, warm and authentic against Mayâs clumsy reserve. And on 9 June, it was Rudd who emerged stronger from the wreckage.Amber Rudd has gone, but now Theresa May faces a new crisis | Isabel Hardman Read more
Such was the bond of confidence built between Rudd and May that the idea of Rudd moving to the Tr easury began to circulate. In a piece of historic symbolism, the second female prime minister would create the first female chancellor.
Instead, Rudd began her second year as home secretary, a job where success is defined as stopping things from happening. For Rudd, it is even harder. No one who knows her thinks she believes in Mayâs cherished ambition of cutting net migration to below 100,000.
Until a fortnight ago, it was generally understood Rudd was a natural liberal oppressed by the demands of the security state and the tendency of the prime minister to begin every conversation with the remark: âWhen I was home secretary â¦â
Well-sourced stories emerged that she was trying to adopt a Blairite âtough on crime, tough on the causes of crimeâ strategy for violent crime. Yet when the strategy launched, she admitted to not having read her own research on the impact of police cuts. Now, as well as her job being taken away, it is difficult to see how her status as a leading liberal can survive the facts of Windrush.Topics
- Amber Rudd
- Commonwealth immigration
- Theresa May
- Immigration and asylum
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