Immigration

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:37 pm on 26th June 2019.

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Photo of Joanna Cherry Joanna Cherry Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Justice and Home Affairs), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Justice), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Home Affairs) 3:37 pm, 26th June 2019

It is a real pleasure to follow my hon. Friend Gavin Newlands. As he said towards the end of his speech, there really could be no more appropriate topic than immigration for the SNP to choose for our first Opposition day debate for nearly a year. The inept and damaging approach of this Conservative Government to immigration typifies how this Westminster Parliament is incapable of serving Scotland’s needs.

As the current Prime Minister’s reign fizzles out in the midst of a constitutional crisis, she is frantically clinging to the wreckage in an effort to outstay Gordon Brown’s reign, staying till the last possible minute as she desperately searches for something other than the Brexit shambles to be her legacy. She should not fear: help is at hand from the SNP. As my hon. Friend the Member for Paisley and Renfrewshire North said, one policy that can undoubtedly be laid firmly at the door of the current Prime Minister is the hostile environment and the ludicrous net migration targets on which she has insisted throughout her time as Home Secretary and Prime Minister, despite the fact that they have never been met.

It is not a legacy of which the Prime Minister can be proud. When she stood on the doorstep of No. 10 at the outset of her premiership, she promised to fight against the burning injustices in our society. Not only has she failed to do that; instead she will be remembered as the architect and driving force behind a policy that has not only failed but created a whole new set of burning injustices, typified by the scandalous treatment of the members of the Windrush generation.

As a member of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, I was involved in a case study of two of the Windrush cases in some detail. We were able to see the way in which those acting on behalf of the Home Office repeatedly ignored extensive documentary evidence that these people had every right to be here. They detained them and were on the verge of deporting them from this country. Given that treatment and the denied-my-vote scandal that took place on 23 May, it is perfectly understandable that EU nationals living in the United Kingdom are afraid about the protection of their rights after we leave the European Union should they find themselves in a position similar to that of the Windrush citizens—where they have every right to be here but do not have the right paperwork. In that respect, I pay great tribute to the work of the 3 million group and also of the New Europeans, who have done a lot in relation to the denied-my-vote scandal.

The Windrush scandal illustrated with a human face the severe unintended consequences of the hostile environment policies. Perhaps even worse, they were not unintended at all, and it was the price that the Prime Minister felt was worth paying to achieve her unobtainable targets. There is no doubt about it, as my hon. Friend Deidre Brock said, that there is a racist element to these policies. The long-term lawful residents of the United Kingdom who lost their jobs, their homes and their health as a result of the Windrush scandal were black and ethnic minority people. The only known middle-aged, middle class white person to have lost their job as a result of the Windrush scandal is Amber Rudd who had to resign as Home Secretary, but make no mistake about it, the rap for the Windrush disaster rests at the door of the outgoing Prime Minister.