Two former Home Secretaries are urging ministers to put the introduction of national identity cards ‘back on the agenda’ in the wake of the Windrush scandal.
Labour grandees Alan Johnson and Charles Clarke say the documents would prevent a repeat of the fiasco, which helped trigger Amber Rudd’s shock resignation last night.
Tony Blair had pushed to introduce ID cards, but his plans sparked huge opposition and were ditched when Theresa May became Home Secretary in 2010.
But Mr Johnson and Mr Clarke tore into Mrs May’s ‘ideological and unwise’ decision to abandon plans for the documents.
And they said the cards would make the status of thousands of undocumented immigrants regular.
Labour former Home Secretaries Charles Clarke (pictured left) and Alan Johnson (pictured right) have both called for national ID cards to be introduced in the wake of the Windrush scandal
They say this would avoid a repeat of the Windrush scandal, which saw immigrants who have lived in the UK for years threatened with deportation because they do not have ID documents.
They have lost theirs jobs, homes, were denied NHS treatment and stopped from attending their loved-ones’ weddings and funeral because of the fiasco.
In a joint letter to The Times today, the two ex Labour home secretaries warned that unless ID cards are introduced ministers risk leaving EU nationals living in Britain in the same predicament.
They wrote: ‘Theresa May’s ideological and unwise decision to ditch the Labour government’s scheme immediately she took office as home secretary has left her and her beleaguered successor with no idea how to tackle the most pernicious form of immigration: illegal entry.
‘Biometric cards remain the best way to prove and so protect a citizen’s identity, which is why most major European countries have them.
‘It’s time to put identity cards back on the political agenda and give everyone confidence that those using our services are fully entitled to do so.’
Mr Johnson also laid the blame of the Windrush scandal squarely with the Prime Minister, and her decision to introduce a ‘hostile environment’
He said: ‘We pursued the policy not because it was popular but because it was right.
‘While Amber Rudd has had a dreadful week and [is] clearly not in command of her brief the real blame lies with Theresa May,’ he said.
Tory MP and leading Brexiteer said that introducing ID cards would be a bad idea as they are ‘not very British’ and would allow the state to demand papers of poeple going about their business
‘It was her hostile environment policy that has led to this crisis and if, for purely political motives, she had not dropped identity cards none of it would have been necessary in the first place.
‘There is a reason why other European countries have less of an issue with identifying hidden illegal migration and that is because they have identity cards.’
Mr Clarke said: ‘If they’d carried on with the scheme then this issue would have been resolved by now.
‘And we could be able to identify who is here legally and who is not. All these problems we’re seeing now stem from a deliberate government policy.’
But Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg said it would be a mistake to introduce ID cards.
Speaking on LBC radio this morning, he said: ‘They change the relationship between the individual and the state.
‘We have a right to go about our business and not be stopped and asked where we are going..
‘If you have ID cards a policeman can ask you at any time who you are and what you are doing. That’s not the British way.”