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UK Government made a ‘bad mistake’ with Windrush issue – British politician


ALL GOVERNMENTS make mistakes!

That is how Lord Howard of Lympne answered a question on the British Windrush generation immigration scandal.

Lord Howard, also known as Michael Howard, Baron Howard of Lympne, CH, PC, QC, is a British politician who served as Leader of the Conservative Party and Leader of the Opposition from November 2003 to December 2005.

On Tuesday, he was a guest speaker at the St Vincent and the Grenadines Chamber of Industry and Commerce’s (SVGCIC) first luncheon for 2020 at Sunset Shores in Villa.

Lord Howard said he believes we can put the Windrush issue behind us.

The Windrush generation was named after British ship the Empire Windrush, which arrived at Tilbury Docks in Essex with 492 Caribbean passengers in 1948.

The group was made up of persons who went to the UK from the Commonwealth as children following the Second World War. These persons’ rights to be British citizens were certified by the Immigration Act of 1971, but new immigration laws asked these persons to prove continuous residence in the UK since 1973.

This was impossible for many of the Windrush generation as the Home Office did not record the details of each individual and some of them did not get documents so could not prove they were in the UK legally.

As a result, some were denied access to state healthcare, made redundant from their jobs and even threatened with deportation. The UK government has since apologised and promised that no one from the Windrush generation will be deported or deprived of their rights.

Five Vincentians were affected.

“All governments make mistakes and the government of my country made a bad mistake and I bitterly regret it and I think the government did apologize for it,” Lord Howard responded to a question.

He said the United Kingdom (UK) has a new government and although it’s the same party there is a different prime minister and a different parliament and that makes a very big difference.

“And our current prime minister is absolutely determined to put the mistakes of the past behind us and to concentrate on the future and on building good productive close friendly relationship with our friends and partners across the world and that will certainly include the Caribbean,” said Lord Howard.

He added, “Governments make mistakes because sometimes bureaucracy gets things wrong; sometimes ministers make wrong judgments, sometimes things happen by accident.

“There are all sorts of different reasons why mistakes are made. It might have been a combination of all three. It was a bad mistake. I am very sorry about it. All governments make mistakes, but we put it right,” he stressed.