British PM faces cabinet reshuffle

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LONDON: Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May faced the headache of another cabinet reshuffle on Monday after interior minister Amber Rudd quit having “inadvertently misled” lawmakers about deportation targets for illegal immigrants.

Rudd resigned as home secretary in a blow to the government as it faces outrage over wrongful moves to deport elderly, legal but undocumented immigrants from the Caribbean.

Rudd, who had faced growing pressure over the so-called Windrush scandal, told lawmakers last week that there were no targets for the removal of people deemed to be in the country illegally.

But she felt “with great regret” that it was “necessary” to tender her resignation after the emergence of documents, addressed to her office, showing those goals were in place.


Britain’s Home Secretary Amber Rudd AFP FILE PHOTO

“I should have been aware of this, and I take full responsibility for the fact that I was not,” she said in her resignation letter to May, conceding that she “inadvertently misled the Home Affairs Select Committee,” the panel of MPs scrutinizing the work of her ministry.

In reply, May said she was “very sorry” to receive her resignation, but “understood” her reasons for stepping down.

Rudd’s dramatic exit comes as a severe setback for May, who publicly declared her “full confidence” in Rudd as recently as Friday and faces potentially bruising local authority elections across metropolitan England on Thursday.

Brexit moderate gone
Rudd was the fifth person to quit the Cabinet since the June 2017 snap general election, called by May but which cost her center-right Conservative Party its majority in parliament.

Besides May, Rudd was the only other woman in the four top jobs in government— Downing Street, the Treasury, the Foreign Office and the Home Office.

Rudd, who had run the Home Office since 2016, was also seen as a moderate on the European Union and a balancing force in a Cabinet containing several big-name pro-Brexit figures.

Those tipped to replace her include Communities Secretary Sajid Javid; reformist Environment Secretary Michael Gove, a pro-Brexit figurehead; and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who reportedly refused to budge during the last reshuffle.

Immigration control remains a hot topic in Britain and was a factor in the 2016 vote to leave the EU.

A government clampdown on illegal immigration has begun to identify those without papers, scooping up many elderly people from the Windrush generation—named the ship that brought the first group of migrants from the West Indies in 1948.

Invited to Britain after World War II, they were given a legal right to remain by a 1971 law.

However, many never formalized their status, often because they were children who came over on their parents’ passports and then never applied for their own.

Outrage over the plight of Windrush migrants—some of whom lost jobs and fell into debt as they struggled to prove their status—led to a personal apology from May to Caribbean leaders earlier this month.

AFP

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