The Home Secretary Amber Rudd seems to be in a quite the mess tonight, after it turns out that she may well have misled parliament - notably the Home Affairs Select Committee - on the usage of targets for immigration removals. This was initially highlighted on a regional civil-service level of usage by a union member testifying to the Home Affairs Select Committee earlier in the week, soon followed by a denial of knowledge of the matter by Amber Rudd.
Earlier today Rob Whiteman, chief executive of the UK Border Agency from 2011 to 2013, spoke to the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, reportedly saying:
Targets are set operationally by managers but, of course, ministers would know there are targets. They are intelligent people and they will see performance reports, bids to Treasury for resources, the departmental plan which would cover the targets that are being set for individual services.
Fair’s fair, ministers could say we don’t actually set these targets, they are being set by the operations but I think it is disingenuous, surely, to suggest that they don’t know that they exist because they will have seen them in performance reports and other internal documents.
The Guardian has now received a leaked memo, which was specifically to her and other senior minister, and crucially noting targets and the achieved performance regarding meeting them. This memo could be crucial, but Amber Rudd says she didn’t see the memo, saying in a statement: “I wasn’t aware of specific removal targets. I accept I should have been and I’m sorry that I wasn’t.”
This seems like yet another omnishambles from a relentlessly struggling government. Rudd has yet to prove that she is worth holding in the role, beyond the fact her falling would lose the cabinet a key Remainer.