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PMQs: Boris bats off Priti protests

The PM defended his Home Secretary as opposition members tried to force her resignation, live on TV, at PMQs. Priti Patel, in a muted fuchsia dress, sat on the Treasury bench nestled snugly between Jacob Rees-Mogg and the Prime Minister. This casual arrangement cannot have been more deliberate. Here she is, announced the seating-plan, and here she stays. Jeremy Corbyn tried first. He demanded ‘an independent investigation into the home secretary’s conduct led by an external lawyer.’ He also wanted ‘a date when the findings will be made public.’ Boris ducked this blatantly. ‘The home secretary is keeping this country safe. She believes in stopping the early release of offenders…

Why splitting the Home Office up makes sense

We won’t see the full scope of what Boris Johnson plans to do for life after Brexit until the new year. There will be a few appointments this afternoon to replace gaps in the government, and then the Queen’s Speech will introduce the legislative agenda on Thursday. But the full launch of the new government won’t be until February. What we do know is that Johnson and his senior aide Dominic Cummings have got Whitehall in their sights, and are hoping to reshape government departments to make them work better. One of the biggest changes is carving up the Home Office so that it loses its responsibility for immigration and

How police can take back control of Britain’s streets

Boris Johnson’s pledge to fund an extra 20,000 police officers was a serious sign of intent, a game-changing moment for policing and a huge boost for law and order on Britain’s streets. But how can these new officers quickly reverse the spike in knife and violent crime that has plagued Britain? There are six pressing challenges that the new Home Secretary Priti Patel needs to address if she is to succeed in her strategy to crack down on crime: increasing crime levels, greater demands and reduced budgets for police; decline in neighbourhood officers; new national security threats; a disempowered police workforce and a policing model outpaced by technology. It is clear that neighbourhood policing

What’s waiting in Priti Patel’s new Home Office in-tray?

Priti Patel is the new Home Secretary. This is likely to attract a fair bit of opprobrium from Boris Johnson’s critics, given she is a supporter of the death penalty. Whether or not she has been given any remit to examine that particular policy issue, she has a big job on her hands. The Home Office is one of the hardest departments to run. Theresa May managed to survive it, largely by micromanaging everyone else into the dust. Her successor Amber Rudd did not, finding that obeying her boss too well led to her being implicated in the Windrush scandal. Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill, May’s aides in the Home

Back door to Britain

I was working in Johannesburg when I first got wind of the fact that Ireland has become an illegal back door to the UK. If you’re from a country such as South Africa, Swaziland, Lesotho, Fiji or Guyana, you need, not just a passport, but a prearranged visa, obtained from the local embassy for a fee, before you can even board a plane to Britain. It takes time, your details are checked, and you need to show a reason why you’ll go home at the end of your stay. In the 1980s most African nationals could come to Britain visa-free. But worries about terrorism and crimes committed once in the

Isabel Hardman

Amber Rudd is reminded of the Home Office’s reputation as a political graveyard

Amber Rudd must, privately, be hopping mad about the Windrush row. Not only is she having to defend policies that her predecessor and now boss introduced when she was Home Secretary, she is also having to try to resolve the mess that was exacerbated by Number 10 in initially refusing a meeting with Commonwealth leaders about the matter, and then made worse still by Caroline Nokes’ interview suggesting that people had been wrongly deported when there was no such evidence of this happening. That’s not to say that Rudd doesn’t have her own questions to answer: as she argued herself this afternoon when before the Home Affairs Committee, while the

The Home Office must not be allowed to create a ‘hostile environment’ for EU nationals

A rather sinister tweet was sent out yesterday by the Home Office telling EU nationals that if they wanted to stay in Britain they’d best “apply” – not register – for the scheme if they “want to stay in the UK” after 31 December 2020. The tone was quite disgusting. And it raises the question as to whether, with the Home Secretary on holiday, his officials are about to launch into a “hostile environment” scheme in direct contradiction to his personal approach and UK government policy. Language matters. The phrase “hostile environment” summed up the horror of Home Office autopilot: a computer-says-no approach to immigration, with effects on human lives

It’s easy for MPs to miss the humiliating treatment of their own constituents

If you wanted an easy illustration of the importance of a Parliament that looks vaguely like the country it works for, look no further than a tiny consultation issued this week by the Home Office. In it, ministers suggest new guidelines on the treatment of women in custody who are on their periods. This sounds like quite small fry – and the sort of subject that makes at least 50 per cent of readers recoil from going any further. But it’s important, not just in itself, but also because it shows what happens when more women join the House of Commons. For years, female detainees who are awaiting a court

Can Sajid Javid really change immigration policy?

When Sajid Javid became Home Secretary, he did so on the basis that he would be able to undo some of the political damage done by the ‘hostile environment policy’. Last night, he rather quietly announced that a key element of this policy would be paused, something Labour’s David Lammy immediately seized upon, hauling Javid’s junior Caroline Nokes to the Commons for an urgent question. Noakes insisted that this pause was ‘temporary’, adding that she would not give consent to the data sharing between government departments and other organisations until she was confident ‘that we will not be impacting on further members of the Windrush generation’. Lammy was largely unhappy

Caroline Nokes puts her foot in it, again

Theresa May’s government is supposed to decide within the next two months what type of migration policy Britain should adopt after Brexit. So it didn’t go unnoticed that both Michael Gove and Ruth Davidson used the launch of a new Conservative think tank – Onward – on Monday night to argue for a more relaxed and open system. But despite them speaking out, the person causing No 10 the biggest headache on immigration today is the immigration minister. After Caroline Nokes caused confusion during the Windrush crisis by suggesting in an interview that some migrants may have been accidentally deported, she is back in the line of fire once again.

New leak suggests Amber Rudd’s grip on the Home Office is even weaker than first thought

When the Windrush scandal broke, it was largely seen as Theresa May’s fault, given the Prime Minister had introduced the hostile environment policy when she was Home Secretary. But this week, the focus has shifted to Amber Rudd, and whether she knew what was going on once she took over the role. This afternoon the Guardian has a leak which suggests Rudd’s grip on her department is even weaker than we’d previously thought. Following a chaotic 24 hours in which the Home Secretary told MPs on the Home Affairs Committee that there were no Home Office targets for immigration removals and then corrected herself in the Commons the following day,

The Home Office nearly deported my husband

What I remember about preparing to leave for my husband’s appointment with the Home Office in Croydon in 2007 is hysteria. A tizzy was not unprecedented; in our household, it’s always the man who’s in a dither, seeing to last-minute primping and chronically unable to get out the door on time. But on this occasion I, too, was rattled, snapping impatiently as I double-checked an enormous bag of documents. A fair bit was at stake. An American, I had acquired my own Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) — a grand designation for ‘residency’ that only the British would coin — during a looser era of the Writers and Artists Visa,

‘British values’ are a load of old codswallop

Sometimes a combination of news stories crop up that so perfectly sum up the spirit of the age, its absurdities and hypocrisies, that there ought to be a name for it. This week, for instance, I learned that the Home Office had barred three Iraqi and Syrian bishops from entering the country, the same department that quite merrily welcomes some of the most unpleasant hate preachers from the Islamic world. Elsewhere, there was also a report about racial and religious segregation in schools and the need to teach something called ‘British values’ to children to help them integrate. And finally, the winner of the country’s most prestigious art award was announced, beating competition from

Home Office’s dirty laundry aired at select committee on child sexual abuse inquiry

On Monday, Amber Rudd found herself in a difficult position in the Commons over the Home Office’s blunder-ridden child sexual abuse inquiry. In response to an urgent question from Lisa Nandy, she was forced to confess that despite her previous statements, she had known that Dame Lowell Goddard quit as chair amid allegations of racism rather than loneliness. Now onto its fourth chair, Alexis Jay, MPs are fast losing patience with the inquiry. While Rudd has the undesirable task of taking the heat over an inquiry set up by her boss Theresa May, today it was the turn of Home Office staff and inquiry members to offer their version of events to the Home Affairs

It’s time the Government ended its silence on Sikh hate crime victims

On 15 September 2001, Balbir Singh Sodhi, a gas station owner, was arranging flowers outside his family business in Arizona. He had just returned from Costco, where he purchased some American flags and donated money to a fund for victims of 9/11. Moments later, he was shot dead. Sodhi, a turbaned Sikh, goes down in history as the first person killed in retribution for the Al Qaeda terror attacks. On his arrest, his murderer Frank Roque told police, ‘I’m a patriot and American.’ Fifteen years on, Sikhs, both in the US and Britain, are acutely aware that hate does not discriminate. And Sikhs, like Muslims, continue to face the backlash to

Theresa May’s record as Home Secretary is alarming, not reassuring

Despite David Cameron’s experience as a marketing man, his skills at reputation management were feeble compared to those of Theresa May. May was not a terrible Home Secretary but she was not a good one, still less an outstanding one. Yes, she remained in office for six years. But longevity in office is hardly proof of success, even at the Home Office. Anyone who has worked in a large organisation has encountered long-serving, apparently unfireable incompetents, and one thing that the history of the Cameron administration surely proves is that being bad at your job rarely leads to losing that job. Some kind of strange magic has prompted pundits and

Edinburgh University staff are now under surveillance, thanks to the Home Office

Another British university has been revealed as a mini GDR. And this time it’s not the fault of those speech-policing students’ unions. The University of Edinburgh – which recently hit headlines after its students association banned head-shaking – has been slammed for an Orwellian new practice designed to keep tabs on its staff. Under a new scheme, reported in Times Higher Education, university staff will be required to report their whereabouts ‘when officially at work, but not in their normal place of work’. The provisions, originally meant to apply only to staff from outside the EU, have been extended to all 13,000 employees, in an effort to ensure they are applied

Bordering on insanity

[audioplayer src=”http://rss.acast.com/viewfrom22/thedeportationgame/media.mp3″ title=”The Spectator Podcast: the deportation game”] Listen [/audioplayer]For once it seemed that we were getting tough. Our patience had apparently snapped. We had been worn down by the constant news stories about foreigners whom the UK government was unable to deport — the child rapists, the fraudsters, the thieves, the gangsters, the jihadis who want us all dead, and just your plain old common-or-garden illegal residents. It always seemed that the more vile and murderous the individual and the more misery he or she intended to wreak upon the rest of us, the more likely they were to be given leave to stay here by some idiotic judge.

Home Office staff fail their own ‘langauge’ test

This week the Prime Minister warned that migrant spouses who fail language tests could be made to leave the UK. Alas David Cameron distracted from his message with two language gaffes this week which led Mr S to ask whether he should be deported. Now it appears the problem has spread, with members of the Home Office also struggling with basic English. A Home Office press release has been sent round offering details on the language test migrant spouses will be asked to complete. However, the brain behind the email has managed to misspell ‘language’: Whoops. Home Office announces a new English language test for migrants…. and spells language wrong pic.twitter.com/No4HZQfffi —

Burnham attacks May over police cuts at Home Office questions

It was inevitable that Theresa May would face demands to rethink police cuts at Home Office questions this afternoon. And Labour did indeed make this its main line of attack in the Commons, with Andy Burnham urging the Home Secretary to reconsider reductions in police numbers that might be being considered in the Comprehensive Spending Review. Burnham has pursued this issue with some gusto since taking the Shadow Home Secretary brief, as it is the one matter where he can be reasonably tub thumping and Burnhamish. Today he was sombre, but it was clear that May was aware that the Paris attacks have made an extremely difficult set of cuts