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26th Apr 2018

Amber Rudd forced to admit Home Office did have ‘removal’ targets, despite denying it yesterday

She has faced calls to resign

Oli Dugmore

On Wednesday Amber Rudd said regional targets for ‘voluntary removal’ of illegal immigrants were not in place

But it turns out they are.

Yesterday, home secretary Amber Rudd said she was “not familiar” with claims her department has targets for migrant removals.

They embarrassingly emerged in a 2015 report this morning, and the disclosure has put more pressure on Rudd to resign over the Windrush scandal and, more broadly, government immigration policy and ‘hostile environment’ created by her predecessor Theresa May.

Rudd told a committee of MPs on Wednesday she was “not aware” of illegal immigrant removal targets.

The home secretary has been accused of misleading Parliament after saying “We don’t have targets for removals,” as a result.

She said she never agreed to use removal targets for migrants, adding that the regional targets used by the Home Office “were not published targets against which performance was assessed.”

Answering an urgent question in the House of Commons this morning, Rudd said: “I have never agreed that there should be specific removal targets and I would never support a policy that puts targets ahead of people.

“The immigration arm of the Home Office has been using local targets for internal performance management.

“These were not published targets against which performance was assessed – but if they were used inappropriately then I am clear that this will have to change.

“I have asked officials to provide me with a full picture of performance measurement tools which are used at all levels, and will update the House and the Home Affairs select committee as soon as possible.”

Diane Abbott told Amber Rudd: ‘Consider your honour and resign’

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott called on Rudd to resign: “When Lord Carrington resigned over the Falklands, he said it was a matter of honour.

“Isn’t it time that the Home Secretary considered her honour and resigned?”

Rudd said: “I believe I have addressed the issue of targets, referring to the fact that there are some offices which are working with them.

“Unfortunately I was not aware of them and I want to be aware of them, which is why I’m now putting in place different measures to ensure that that happens.”

Rudd in parliament today

The SNP’s Alison Thewliss repeated calls for Ms Rudd to resign, claiming she was presiding over a department “out of control”.

Ms Thewliss said: “There is a litany of callous incompetence in this department and it is a problem of deliberate policy: cruel hostile environment policy by the former home secretary now Prime Minister and continued unabated by the current Home Secretary.

“This home secretary is presiding over a department out of control, marked by cruelty and chaos.

“Will she stop shielding the Prime Minister, will she do the honourable thing and resign?”

Labour’s Yvette Cooper, chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee, said it was “deeply disappointing” Ms Rudd “did not know the facts” when she gave evidence.

But the home secretary maintained she was the right person for the job: “I do take seriously my responsibility but I do think I am the person who can put it right.

“I understand the House will want to hold me to account for that, but I am confident the changes I am committed to putting in place and the transparency that will go with that will deliver the changes that are expected.”