MOOD music – that’s what the Windrush scandal is all about. And the tunes have been jarring and horribly discordant, until yesterday’s belated apology from Theresa May.
That’s an apology from the woman who lay the foundations for this heartless mess during her tenure as home secretary; the cold-eyed technocrat who introduced the hostile immigration environment.
This is what lies behind the bureaucratic nightmare that saw long-time British citizens in some cases threatened with being deported ‘back’ to countries they haven’t lived in or possibly even visited in half a century.
Mrs Maybe apologised to leaders of Caribbean heads of government and promised that no one would be deported. Here she is in sorry mode: “I take this issue very seriously. The home secretary apologised in the House of Commons yesterday for any anxiety caused. And I want to apologise to you today. Because we are genuinely sorry for any anxiety that has been caused.”
No mention of genuine sorrow for being the architect of this appalling affair – but a solid mention for the present home secretary. Now I don’t much like Amber Rudd, but she is being forced here to clear up a mess of her boss’s making, and that’s never a fair position to be in.
Along with Mrs Maybe’s belated statement of remorse comes further shaming news. We learn today that in 2010 the decision was taken to destroy the landing card slips that recorded the arrival date of Windrush immigrants, dating back to the 1950s and 1960s. This removed the last remaining proof of when a person arrived.
And who was home secretary at the time? Yes, Theresa May.
Mood music again. The treatment of the Windrush generation – something even the Daily Mail today condemns – is alarming EU citizens who live here and have been feeling fearful ever since the Brexit vote.
The3million campaign group represents EU citizens in the UK. Yesterday it met the immigration minister Caroline Nokes to discuss how the Home Office was going to handle online applications for “settled status” after Brexit. It is reported no reassurance was offered over whether EU citizens would ever find themselves in the same position as the Windrush generation.
Surely mostly people must know someone from the EU who is a long-term resident in Britain; someone who plays a vital role professionally and socially in the fabric of this country; someone who adds to what should be a hopeful, inclusive, outward-looking Britain.
We certainly have a friend who falls into that category. And the anxiety caused to her and other such EU citizens working here is another sort of disgrace caused by the mood music on immigration.
Brexit wasn’t meant to be about immigration, but the issue was dragged centre-stage by the usual suspects. Today the Daily Express, chief warbler for the Brexit besotted, lays into former chancellor George Osborne over ‘project fear’, in other words his warnings about Brexit.
“SO JUST HOW ACCURATE WAS PROJECT FEAR THEN?” shouts a headline heralding a bit of an economic upturn.
Somehow the Express forgets to find space for the Global Future think-tank report – the one finding that each of the government’s four Brexit scenarios will cost British taxpayers hundreds of millions of pounds every week.
Sorry to spoil the tattered tea party, but Brexit hasn’t happened yet. In language Express readers may understand, if nothing else Brexit is a wait-and-see pudding. It’s not been plonked on the plate yet. And everyone is still arguing over how to split the bill.