James Forsyth

May and Boris in Cabinet clash over immigration amnesty

May and Boris in Cabinet clash over immigration amnesty
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At Cabinet today, ministers discussed the fallout from the Windrush scandal. I understand that Boris Johnson made the point that there needed to be a broader immigration amnesty for long-standing Commonwealth immigrants. He argued that this was necessary to prevent others from getting caught up in the same situation, having to produce overly onerous amounts of evidence to show that they have been living here for years. Obviously, this amnesty wouldn’t apply to those with a criminal record. I’m told that Theresa May then rather acidly remarked that Boris had previously called for an amnesty for all immigrants, which he did first in 2008 and then again in 2016 when he privately proposed one for those who had been here for over a decade.

One of those present tells me that Boris looked ‘remarkably unbothered’ by this observation from the Prime Minister. Indeed, I get the sense that those who favour a more liberal approach on immigration think that Windrush has given them a renewed chance to press their case. But May’s riposte to Boris suggests that she isn’t inclined to move on the issue.

It does seem that Cabinet this morning was a slightly scratchy affair. I understand that May ticked ministers off for the amount of briefing there’s been in the press over the whole customs union issue.