It is with great regret that I am resigning as home secretary. I feel it is necessary to do so because I inadvertently misled the Home Affairs Select Committee over targets for removal of illegal immigrants during their questions on Windrush.
Since appearing before the select committee, I have reviewed the advice I was given on this issue and become aware of information provided to my office which makes mention of targets. I should have been aware of this, and I take full responsibility for the fact that I was not.
The Windrush scandal has rightly shone a light on an important issue for our country. As so often, the instincts of the British people are right. They want people who have a right to live here to be treated fairly and humanely, which has sometimes not been the case. But they also want the government to remove those who don't have the right to be here. I had hoped in coming months to devise a policy that would allow the government to meet both these vital objectives - including bringing forward urgent legislation to ensure the rights of the Windrush generation are protected. The task force is working well, the residence cards are being issued well within the two weeks promised, and the design of the compensation scheme is making good progress.
The Home Office is one of the great offices of state and its job is to keep people safe. It comes with the responsibility to fight terrorism, support and challenge the police and protect people against the abuse, as well as manage migration.
It has been a great privilege to serve as your home secretary. I have seen first-hand the second to none commitment and bravery of our police, fire and intelligence services, they truly are the best in the world and we should rightly be extremely proud of them.
I have been particularly pleased that we were able to set up the first Global Internet Forum for Counter Terrorism which has led the way with encouraging social media sites to go further and faster in taking down radicalising and terrorist material, which plays such a dangerous part in increasing extremism.
Setting out new laws to tackle the scourge of knife crime and acid attacks and helping to steer our young people away from a life of crime and violence by providing them with credible alternatives have been particularly important to me.
Opportunities to work on issues that safeguard the vulnerable, champions women and make a lasting impact on people's lives particularly stand out for me. New policies to fight domestic violence and abuse against women are out to consultation, and will lead this country to taking a new approach. Helping to bring thousands of refugees, including child refugees from both Calais and the Middle East region, and meeting some of the families who fled the terrible situation in Syria and have now been given a chance to rebuild their lives here in the UK in safety and security is something we can be proud of.
It has been an honour to work on a new security treaty with the EU as part of our new partnership going forward and to participate in your Brexit sub-committee helping to ensure that we have the best possible EU deal for our economy, businesses, jobs and people across the UK.
The new Economic Crime Centre that i launched with the first use of unexplained wealth orders will be important to the confidence of London as a financial centre.
I will continue to support the Home Office ministerial team whenever possible on all these important subjects, supporting the government from the back benches and continuing to work hard for my constituents of Hastings and Rye.
Here is the prime minister's response:
Thank you for your letter of this evening tendering your resignation as home secretary. I was very sorry to receive it, but understand your reasons for doing so.
When you addressed the House of Commons and the Home Affairs Select Committee last week on the issue of illegal immigration, you answered the questions put to you in good faith. People who have entered the United Kingdom illegally or overstayed here should expect to face the full force of the law and know that they will be removed if they will not leave this country voluntarily. Just as importantly, people who have come here legally and enriched the life of our country should not expect the state unreasonably to challenge their presence here; rather, it should help them prove their right to continue living here and contributing to the life of our nation.
Under your tenure, the Home Office has been working to enforce a firm but fair immigration policy - working to increase the number of illegal migrants we remove, while ensuring that we continue to recognise the huge contribution of everyone who has come to the UK legally, and remain open to the brightest and best from across the globe.
When you spoke in the House of Commons, you said that you had not agreed specific removal targets, but that the Home Office's Immigration Enforcement command had been using local targets for internal performance management. You also said that you were not aware that those operational targets had been set.
I understand why, now that you have had chance to review the advice that you have received on this issue, you have made the decision you have made and taken responsibility for inadvertently misleading the Home Affairs Select Committee.
I am very sorry to see you leaving the Home Office, but you should take great pride in what you have achieved there - working with internet service providers to set up the first Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism and take extremist and terrorist content offline; countering the cyber threat to British families and businesses; standing up for the victims of crime, abuse and domestic violence; offering shelter to refugees from Syria and elsewhere; and advancing the cause of equality as minister for women and equalities.
This comes on top of the considerable contribution you have made to Government since 2012 - first as a whip, then as minister and subsequently secretary of state at the department for energy and climate change - as well as the devoted service you have always given, and will continue to give, to your constituents in Hastings and Rye.
As a former home secretary myself, I appreciate the particular demands of that great office of state. You should take great pride in the way you have led the Home Office and its dedicated public servants through a number of serious challenges, including five terrorist incidents and other complex national events. You have done so with great integrity, compassion, and selflessness - notwithstanding the personal and political challenges you have faced during this period.
I know that you have a great contribution still to make to national life, and look forward to seeing you do so.
“Amber Rudd seemed slowly to be escaping the worst of her troubles yesterday. Now she has gone. Did she come to consider her position too vulnerable, after all? Has she simply had enough? Or is there some twist to the tale – some as yet undiscovered Home Office document or exchange – that we don’t yet know about? At the moment, it looks as though the second is the case, but we will doubtless find out more in due course.
So Michael Fallon, Priti Patel, Damian Green and now Rudd have left the Cabinet that Theresa May formed last summer. That’s a departure rate of almost one of its members every three months – an indication of this Government’s essential fragility. The Prime Minister will not have wanted to lose a senior former Remainer from her Cabinet who can now cause her Brexit trouble – and perhaps tell recent tales of dealing with both May’s Home Office legacy and her internal management of leaving the EU
I thought the first part of Paul Goodman's article was fine, but I'm not quite so keen on the speculation about who will replace Rudd in the latter part of the piece. Let’s hope May isn’t forced (by ‘quota maths’) to choose someone weak, vulnerable and colourless.
I like Stephen Daisley. He goes on to make some interesting suggestions for revamping the Home Office; do read the whole thing in the Spectator.
The Home Office is not a government department; it’s a nervous breakdown minuted by civil servants. It is too big, too unwieldy, and too overstretched. It is an uber-bureaucracy of overlapping remits and contradictory objectives, at once sclerotic and dementedly populist. Tony Blair recognised this and hived off courts, prisons and probation to the Ministry of Justice. It was a good start but the decade since has proved that more radical restructuring is needed.
Sometimes it’s vital to know who said what to whom and who knew what when, but I feel that the media is placing far too much emphasis on that aspect of the 'targets' affair in this case.
I prefer to look at the wider picture. In the Conservative press, there is some sympathy for Amber Rudd, in particular with regard to her competence in seeing through the proposals for putting things right for the Windrush generation. On the other hand, the Guardian was at the head of the campaign to depose her. Just imagine what the Home Office would be like under Diane Abbott. Is that really what the Guardian is aiming for?
After the business of the left dismissing the latest racism scandal in the Labour Party as a politically motivated smear, how can Diane Abbott get away with pretending that her crusade-like campaign against the government is any different?
Let’s hear the BBC’s flagship political experts like Smith, Marr and Humphrys challenge Labour as ‘robustilly’ as they have been doing with the Rudd, May and anyone who ventures to defend them.