Priti Patel: Home Office “was uncomfortable” for me as a BAME person | Migration
Priti Patel, the UK’s first female Home Secretary of black or minority ethnicity, said she felt “uncomfortable” when she joined the ministry following the Windrush scandal.
Patel became Home Office chief in July 2019 after Amber Rudd resigned after Guardian revelations about mistreatment and deportation of legal residents, many of whom have come from the Caribbean to the UK decades over early.
In an appearance before the House of Lords’ Home Affairs and Justice Committee, Patel said she was appointed Home Secretary as the department prepared evidence for the review of lessons learned from Windrush by Wendy Williams on The Scandal.
“If I think of Windrush, obviously I walked into a department just as the lessons learned report was supposed to come out. I have my own point of view quite frankly. I am an interior minister from an ethnic minority who comes to a department where I did not feel very comfortable, ”she said.
Patel said she had had “a lot of hindsight” while trying to change the culture of the Home Office, which could take years. “It’s a very, very long journey,” she said.
She drew criticism after claiming at the same hearing that some migrants are drawn to the UK by the prospect of being accommodated in hotels.
“We ended up having to put people in hotels and I’m afraid I think that’s pretty sub-optimal,” Patel said.
“It’s counterproductive; I think it also acted as a pull factor for people to come into the country illegally, thinking that they are going to end up in hotels.
Enver Solomon, chief executive of the Refugee Council, said Patel’s comments had “little to do with reality.”
“Rather than people being drawn to the idea of living in a hotel, the problems people encounter during their long stays in temporary accommodation have been well documented,” he said.
Asked by Labor peer Shami Chakrabarti, Patel also insisted that there is a “legal basis” for running small boats at sea.
“None of this is illegal. So let me stress that none of this is illegal, ”she said. “We don’t want to see people dying at sea. We want to prevent people from drowning at sea. I can’t stress this enough.
Senior QCs have argued that Patel’s controversial new border bill violates international and national law in at least 10 different ways.
Referring to a man who was reportedly missing at sea off the coast of Harwich in Essex, Patel said: “Not just yesterday there was a loss of life in the English Channel.”