By: Pramod Thomas
Britain’s government came under withering criticism Friday after retreating from reforms it had promised to prevent a repeat of the “Windrush” scandal affecting black immigrants.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman said that three of the changes previously promised were unnecessary.
Baroness Floella Benjamin, a former TV presenter who chairs the government’s Windrush Commemoration Committee, said Braverman’s announcement was “cruel” and would cause “even more pain and hurt”.
The MV Empire Windrush ship was one of the vessels that brought workers from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and other Caribbean islands to help fill UK labour shortages after World War II.
From 2017, campaigners revealed that thousands of the legitimate British citizens had been wrongly detained or deported under the Conservative government’s hardline immigration policies.
Many lost homes and jobs, and were denied access to healthcare and benefits. Some died before their names could be cleared.
Among 30 recommendations, a subsequent inquiry suggested a commissioner to safeguard migrants’ interests; more powers for an independent chief inspector of borders; and the holding of reconciliation events.
Braverman’s predecessor agreed to all 30 reforms. But the minister said she was dropping those three recommendations, prompting the lawyer who oversaw the inquiry, Wendy Williams, to say she was “disappointed”.
Braverman, however, argued that she wanted to “shift culture and subject ourselves to scrutiny” rather than relying on external overseers.
“Homeland” actor David Harewood described the home secretary’s backtracking as “awful”, and said “we’re dangerously flirting with ideologues”.
Braverman, who is of Indian heritage, is an unabashed campaigner against “woke” culture who says it is her “dream” to see illegal immigrants flown to Rwanda for resettlement under one UK government plan.
Harewood told LBC radio that Braverman’s ethnic background was “very convenient” for the government to pursue illiberal policies against migrants.
At the unveiling last June of a commemorative statue in London’s Waterloo station, Prince William praised the Windrush migrants’ “immense contribution” to UK life.
“Every part of British life is better for the half a million men and women of the Windrush generation,” he said.