Hastings Council Leader Peter Chowney says that Amber Rudd’s departure as Home Secretary will be bad news for anyone hoping for a more compassionate government

So Amber Rudd has resigned as Home Secretary. It was inevitable when Theresa May said she had full confidence in her – it’s always a sure sign when the PM expresses ‘full confidence’ in a minister during times of crisis that they’ll be gone within the week.

She’s been replaced by Sajid Javid, who is significantly further to the right of the party and a hard Brexiteer, even though he tried to hedge his bets by campaigning to remain. As Communities Secretary, he was universally despised by councils throughout the country, of all political colours, especially after he tried to blame councils for the Grenfell Tower fire, and shifted all responsibility away from government. His unapologetic support for austerity and huge cuts to local government and adult social care in particular has made him few friends, and local government generally will be glad to see the back of him.

So whatever you think of Amber Rudd, this is a shift to the right in the Tory Cabinet and is going to be bad news for anyone looking for a more compassionate approach from the Home Office. This is the rise of the Borisonians – in the words of Neil Kinnock (not someone I quote often!): “I warn you not to be ordinary, I warn you not to be young, I warn you not to fall ill, and I warn you not to grow old.” The Tory Party that’s now emerging is not a pretty sight, unless you’re rich, British, and don’t care about anyone less fortunate.

As for the impact Amber Rudd’s resignation will have here in Hastings & Rye, it’s difficult to say. Her reputation is now damaged, more because of her admitted lack of ‘competence’ than for not telling the truth or for her attitude to immigration (which is enlightened compared to most Tory MPs). I’m sure I remember the existence of immigration removal targets being in the news a few years ago, so not being on top of whether they still existed was a bit of a slip-up, to say the least, for a Home Secretary. However, she will have more time to campaign back here, so we could well be seeing more of her.

But will she stand for parliament again at all? My guess is that will rather depend on whether she’s rehabilitated quickly and ends up back in the Cabinet after a pause for reflection on the back benches. She won’t want to be out of the limelight forever, she’s too ambitious, and clever – she’d rather develop her career elsewhere. It will also depend on what happens to Theresa May, and whether she survives the Brexit deal that, inevitably, no-one will wholeheartedly support. But neither Theresa May nor Amber Rudd really fit with the hard-right ideology that’s emerging in the Tory Party. There are interesting times ahead.

 

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