Amber Rudd feels ‘hung out to dry’ by Theresa May over the immigration storm threatening to destroy her career, her allies have told The Mail on Sunday.
The Home Secretary is fighting for her political life this weekend after a series of damaging leaks over her handling of the Windrush saga, which has seen post-war Commonwealth citizens who came to Britain singled out for deportation.
Ms Rudd will be forced to explain to the Commons tomorrow why she denied knowing about her department setting migrant removal targets – only for a memo to then emerge showing that she had been copied in to the details of just such a policy.
Battle for survival: Amber Rudd is fighting for her political life this weekend after a series of damaging leaks over her handling of the Windrush saga
It has led to Labour calls for her resignation and growing disquiet among her colleagues.
But allies of Ms Rudd complain that she has been left isolated by No 10 and let down by her officials at the Home Office.
One said: ‘Amber has been caught in a s*** sandwich. There has been no support from Downing Street, either politically or in terms of communications.
‘The whole purpose seems to have been to circle the tanks around the Prime Minister to make sure that she doesn’t take any collateral damage from the affair. She has also been let down by her officials. When she has gone to them for information she has been given duff steers on figures and targets.’
Another sympathetic colleague of Ms Rudd said that her job had been made ‘almost impossible’ by the attitude of Downing Street.
‘She hasn’t been allowed to do the job in her own way,’ the colleague said. ‘While [Defence Secretary] Gavin Williamson does his own thing, briefing the press without telling No 10 and arranging his own trips, Amber doesn’t get the same leeway. The people around the PM are engaged in an operation to keep her in place until the next Election. They are driven by the desire to keep their jobs as long as possible and see Amber as a threat to that.’
Ms Rudd told the Commons on Thursday that she had never agreed to specific targets for removing migrants. But a day later a memo emerged which set a ‘a target of achieving 12,800 enforced returns in 2017-18’
Ms Rudd’s friends also point the finger at Brexit-supporting Cabinet Ministers such as Michael Gove, claiming that they have seized the chance to destabilise her behind the scenes because of her support for a ‘soft’ Brexit, including membership of a customs union.
Ms Rudd was urged to hit back by counter-briefing against the Brexiteers, but she has told colleagues she didn’t want to ‘play that game’.
One friend said: ‘In many ways she is too nice for her own good.
‘We had noticed a spate of critical articles appearing which were written by friends of Gove. But she didn’t want to go down that route’.
Mr Gove denies any agenda against Ms Rudd. Yesterday he defended her by pointing to the large number of memos and emails that Ministers receive and describing her as ‘a highly talented and highly effective Minister.’
Ms Rudd told the Commons on Thursday that she had never agreed to specific targets for removing migrants. But a day later a memo emerged which had been sent to the Home Secretary saying that officials had set a ‘a target of achieving 12,800 enforced returns in 2017-18’.
It also revealed that ‘we have exceeded our target of assisted returns’ and that progress had been made on achieving the ten per cent increase in deportations promised to Ms Rudd.
She responded by saying: ‘I will be making a statement in the House of Commons on Monday in response to legitimate questions that have arisen on targets and illegal migration. I wasn’t aware of specific removal targets. I accept I should have been and I’m sorry that I wasn’t. I didn’t see the leaked document, although it was copied to my office as many documents are.’
Ms Rudd will be recalled to give evidence to the Commons Home Affairs Committee over the leaked memo. Committee chairman, Labour MP Yvette Cooper, said: ‘We have been given inaccurate information twice. This is a serious concern and I am calling Amber Rudd to come back and give further evidence.’
A No 10 source said: ‘The Prime Minister has made clear that the Home Secretary has her complete confidence.’