Home Secretary Amber Rudd said on Wednesday that she deeply regretted failing to realise how many people in Britain would actually care about the fate of some migrants.
Thousands of people from the so-called “Windrush generation” were invited to Britain to plug labour shortfalls between 1948 and 1971, but some of them and their descendants have been caught out by tighter immigration rules.
Rudd told a parliamentary committee she had known about the problem for months, but assumed by now that no one would be all that bothered by it.
“I look back with hindsight and I’m surprised I did not see the shape of it sooner,” Rudd said.
“I bitterly, deeply regret that I didn’t see it as a more emotive issue than the previous groups we’ve screwed over who garnered far less media and public support.
“But after the widespread public indifference to Syrians, Eritreans and others we’ve locked up or left to be drowned, sold into slavery or ground under lorries, I just assumed no one would care about this lot.
“I was wrong to think people wouldn’t give it a second glance, and for that, I am truly sorry.”
The issue has created anger in Britain after it was revealed that even most of the nation’s racists now also think of the Windrush generation as ‘British’.
A Labour Party spokesman said “Once again we see a Tory government which is out of touch. This isn’t the 1950s. Voters are scared of Muslims and people from Eastern Europe now, not people who basically just make them think of Desmond’s.”