THERESA MAY was today forced to make an embarrassing U-turn in the face of a growing row over the treatment of Windrush migrants who have spent decades in Britain.
The PM has agreed to meet a group of Commonwealth leaders after previously denying their request for talks on Caribbean-born British residents who are at risk of being thrown out.
And the Home Office is set to issue new assurances to the Windrush generation guaranteeing their right to live and work in the UK permanently.
The climbdown comes after several Brits of Caribbean origin described how they had lost their jobs, been denied NHS treatment or been threatened with deportation – even though they are UK citizens.
The group are named after the Empire Windrush, the ship which brought the first large group of immigrants from the Caribbean in 1948.
Mrs May has been under increasing pressure from senior Tories to resolve the situation.
In a sign they are keen to defuse the crisis, the Home Office today announced they will set up a special unit to help members of the Windrush generation who are worried about the rights.
Immigration minister Caroline Nokes said: âWeâre going to work within the Home Office to make sure we have a dedicated contact line and dedicated caseworkers.â
Leading Conservatives from all different wings of the party called on the PM and Home Secretary to take action.
Top Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg told LBC: âItâs absolutely dreadful. These people are as British as you and I are.
âItâs really extraordinary the Home Office is coming out with this ghastly bureaucratic guff saying theyâve got to show theyâre British. Nobodyâs asking us to prove that weâre British when we go and use public services.
“I think itâs a deep disgrace and it should be the top priority of the Government to sort it out.â
And Ruth Davidson, the powerful leader of the Scottish Tories, said she âcouldnât agree moreâ with a Sun editorial calling on the Government to guarantee the immigrantsâ rights.
Shortly before the PMâs U-turn, her ally Sajid Javid wrote on Twitter: âIâm deeply concerned to hear about difficulties some of the Windrush generation are facing with their immigration status.
âThis should not happen to people who have been longstanding pillars of our community.â
A group of 140 MPs from across the political spectrum sent a letter to No 10 demanding clarity on the situation – Labourâs David Lammy, who wrote the letter, said today: âAfter World War II we invited the Windrush Generation over as citizens to help rebuild our country, and now their children are being treated like criminals.
âThe Government is essentially stripping people of the rights that our government itself granted decades ago.â
International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt admitted ministers had to do more, telling the BBC: “People who are in that situation, there is absolutely no question of their right to remain, and their right to gain access to services such as healthcare.
“What clearly needs to happen is we need to do a better job with the process that these individuals are having to go through.
“People should not be concerned about this – they have the right to stay and we should be reassuring them of that.”
She said anyone worried should contact their MP to ask for help.
Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott has pledged to hold a summit involving Caribbean leaders and affected Brits later this week.