Theresa May has issued an apology to both Caribbean leaders and the Windrush generation following an impassioned plea from Tottenham MP, David Lammy after it was revealed that some British people may have been deported by mistake.
An emergency meeting was called and the Labour MP expressed his fury at what he declared was a ‘national day of shame’.
The speech from David Lammy came after Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, was unable to say how many Caribbean immigrants had possibly been deporting in error, saying that she would have to check with the high commissioners, a statement that prompted Lammy to remind her that the deportations had taken place within a department that she was responsible for.
Theresa May has said that she is “genuinely sorry” and acknowledged that the current issues that are being faced are resulting from rules that were introduced by her as home secretary to limit NHS access to those with a right to be in the UK. She has stated that the majority of the Windrush generation do have the documents that they need and that the government are working hard to help those who do not.
May said she wants to “dispel any impression that my government is in some sense clamping down on Commonwealth citizens, particularly those from the Caribbean who have built a life here.”
She added: “Those who arrived from the Caribbean before 1973 and lived here permanently without significant periods of time away in the last 30 years have the right to remain in the UK. As do the vast majority of long-term residents who arrived later.”
She emphasised that she doesn’t “want anyone to be in doubt about their right to remain here in the United Kingdom”.
Prime Minister of St Kitts and Nevis, Timothy Harris, has said that though they see this as the start of the dialogue, he is hoping that the British government would make good any injustice suffered, including offer of compensation.
Prime Minister of Jamaica Andrew Holness has accepted May’s apology, stating that he believes that the right thing is being done at this time and that as Caribbean leaders they have to accept in “good faith” that Theresa May was honest about this being an unintended consequence of the policy change. He also said that whilst he couldn’t say just how many people had been affected, he knew it was at least in the hundreds.
Theresa May has said that people currently trying to establish their status should not be left out of pocket and therefore they will not be charged for their documentation.
David Lammy’s speech can be watched here: