Growing criticism of Braverman’s ‘cruel’ dropping of Windrush pledges

Baroness Floella Benjamin and actor David Harewood add to the anger of the Home Secretary’s ‘awful’ decision.
Baroness Floella Benjamin and actor David Harewood add to the anger of the Home Secretary’s ‘awful’ decision.

Suella Braverman is facing a growing backlash over her “cruel” decision to drop three key reforms that ministers committed to in response to the Windrush scandal.

Baroness Floella Benjamin, who chairs the Government’s Windrush Commemoration Committee, said on Friday the move will cause “even more pain and hurt”.

Actor David Harewood described the Home Secretary’s backtracking as “awful” and said “we’re dangerously flirting with ideologues”.

Their criticism came in response to Ms Braverman dropping recommendations the Government accepted in response to the scandal created in the Home Office.

She axed pledges to establish a migrants’ commissioner, increase powers of the independent chief inspector of borders and immigration and hold reconciliation events.

Baroness Benjamin, the entertainer and Lib Dem peer, tweeted: “I was proud to oversee the creation of the National Windrush Monument as it was a way of acknowledging some of the wrongs but the government going back on the #Windrush Scandal recommendations is cruel and has created even more pain and hurt.”

Mr Harewood, the Birmingham-born actor whose Barbadian parents arrived in Britain in 1957, told LBC: “Personally I think it’s awful. And I think we’re dangerously flirting with ideologues right now, who have no compunction to bring people together.

“They’re just being defensive when it comes to collaborating, sharing and growing. If we’re going to Brexit, and sort of break ourselves off from it, then let’s all join in together and make a new identity.”

The actor, who found fame in US drama series Homeland, described Ms Braverman’s Indian heritage as “convenient” for the Tory party.

“I think the likes of Suella, she’s a gatekeeper. And once the establishment has someone who looks convenient, they are front and centre,” Mr Harewood said.

“Personally, I feel no affiliation with her whatsoever, I don’t think her race… we have no similarities at all.

“But I think it’s very convenient for the powers that be that she looks like that, she speaks like that. I think in her circles, I think she will probably do very, very well.”

The criticism came after Wendy Williams, the solicitor who carried out a Windrush inquiry, said she was “disappointed” by the move.

In 2020, then home secretary Priti Patel had originally accepted all 30 of the recommendations made by Ms Williams.

On Thursday, Ms Williams said she was “disappointed” Ms Braverman was dropping “crucial external scrutiny measures”, particularly the migrants’ commissioner.

A commissioner would be responsible for speaking up for migrants and flagging systemic problems within the UK immigration system.

Ms Braverman, in a written statement to the House of Commons, said external bodies were “not the only source of scrutiny” and that she would look to “shift culture and subject ourselves to scrutiny” rather than follow all the recommendations.

The Windrush scandal emerged in 2018 when British citizens, mostly from the Caribbean, were wrongly detained, deported or threatened with deportation, despite having the right to live in Britain.

Many lost homes and jobs, and were denied access to healthcare and benefits.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “We remain absolutely committed to righting the wrongs of Windrush and have paid or offered more than £64 million in compensation to the people affected.

“We are making progress towards the vast majority of recommendations from Wendy Williams’ report, and believe there are more meaningful ways of achieving the intent of a very small number of others.

“Through this work, we will make sure that similar injustices can never be repeated and are creating a Home Office worthy of every community it serves. Just this week the Home Secretary co-hosted a positive meeting of the Windrush Working Group to discuss how we can work together to drive further improvements.”