British Prime Minister Theresa May is under pressure to introduce legislation guaranteeing a promise of compensation and help applying for citizenship made to long-term residents from the Caribbean incorrectly labelled illegal immigrants.
For almost two weeks, British ministers have been struggling to explain why some descendants of the so-called “Windrush generation”, invited to Britain to plug labour shortfalls between 1948 and 1971, are being denied basic rights because of trouble documenting their status.
The Windrush scandal overshadowed the Commonwealth summit in London earlier this month and has raised questions about May’s six-year stint as interior minister before she became prime minister in the wake of the 2016 Brexit referendum.
The government has apologised for the fiasco, promised citizenship and compensation to those affected, including to people who have lost their jobs, been threatened with deportation and denied benefits because of the errors.
But more than 200 mainly opposition members of parliament have written to the prime minister calling for the pledges to be written into law “without delay”.
The letter accuses the interior minister Amber Rudd, who has faced calls to resign over her handling of the scandal, of making up policy “on the hoof” to defuse the situation.
Rudd is due to address parliament on Monday after giving contradictory statements about whether the government has immigration removal targets.
The pressure on Rudd to stand down increased after she said the British government didn’t have targets for deporting people — only for a memo to emerge mentioning specific targets for enforced removals.
Rudd was facing new questions about whether she misled parliament after her former deputy said on Sunday he discussed with her attempts to increase the number of government deportations.
Brandon Lewis, now the Conservative Party chairman, told the BBC in an interview on Sunday that targets were “very different” from an aim to increase the number of removals referred to in the memo.
Labour accused him of “hiding behind semantics” in an effort to save Rudd’s career.
“He let the truth slip and sealed her fate. Amber Rudd knew of the targets she pretended didn’t exist,” the shadow interior minister Diane Abbott said. “It’s time for Rudd to go.”
In a separate letter, Abbott has called for a full inquiry into whether the interior minister misled parliament and breached the ministerial code.
Abbott said Rudd’s explanations as to why she had told members of parliament there were no such targets, when in fact there were, “stretch credulity to the limit”.
But May’s office said there is no need for an investigation because ministerial code only requires a resignation if a minister knowingly misleads parliament – a charge the interior minister denies.