British PM apologises to C’bean leaders over deportation row

Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May (unseen) hosts a meeting with leaders and representatives of Caribbean countries, at 10 Downing Street in central London. (Photo: AFP)

(AFP) – Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday personally apologised to Caribbean leaders after her government threatened to deport people who emigrated to Britain in the 1950s and 1960s.

At a meeting in Downing Street, May told representatives of the 12 Caribbean members of the Commonwealth that she took the treatment of the so-called Windrush generation “very seriously”.

“I want to apologise to you today. Because we are genuinely sorry for any anxiety that has been caused,” she told the hastily-convened gathering.

She added: “I want to dispel any impression that my government is in some sense clamping down on Commonwealth citizens, particularly those from the Caribbean.”

The government has prompted anger in Caribbean countries and at home for a clampdown on people who came to Britain between 1948, when the ship Windrush brought over the first group of West Indian immigrants, and the early 1970s.

They and their parents were invited to help rebuild Britain after World War II and — with many of them legally British, as they were born while their countries were still colonies — they were given indefinite leave to remain.

But those who failed to get their papers in order are now being treated as illegal, and at risk of deportation if they cannot provide evidence of every year they have been in Britain.

The row has been hugely embarrassing for the government, coinciding with a meeting of the 53 Commonwealth heads of government in London this week.

Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness, who earlier had a bilateral meeting with May, said he wanted a “speedy” response.

Those involved “have significantly contributed to the building and enrichment of the country. Now these persons are not able to claim their place as citizens”, he said.

Britain has written to each of the governments involved setting out how it intends to rectify the situation, notably by helping anyone affected to find the necessary paperwork to regularise their immigration status.

Holness said to May: “Prime minister, we welcome your response and we look forward to a speedy implementation of your proposed solution. It will lead to security, certainly for those who have been affected… It is time for the inclusive prosperity for which we stand as Commonwealth people.”

As he arrived for the meeting at Downing Street, Barbados ambassador Guy Hewitt said: “We are now in a discussion mode. The government has heard us.”

Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne earlier said an apology from May “would be welcome” but he was “pleased” the government had stepped in.

“Many of these individuals do not have any connection with the country of their birth, would have lived in the UK their entire lives and worked very hard towards the advancement of the UK,” he said.

The issue has come to light following a clampdown on illegal immigration in recent years, requiring people to have documentation to work, rent a property or access benefits including healthcare.

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  1. Aa
    April 19, 2018

    Berxit that causing that!

  2. John
    April 18, 2018

    The British PM may be getting her training from Trump.

    • Yes
      April 18, 2018

      It was actually the British Labour Party who tore up their original documents.

  3. Ready Steady
    April 18, 2018

    Thank you Britain, after you took all our resources out of Dominica. Our men stand beside you during the wars, and now you do not want our people. you owe most of the Caribbean people free citizenship. London you should be ashamed of yourself. Give an Amnesty for the people that came along with their parents, for they made a life for themselves in London, they do not know anything about the Caribbean, they are automatically English.

    • Me
      April 19, 2018

      Not English but British. There is a difference.

  4. April 18, 2018

    Notably absent and silent was the Savior of the world (Punjab PhD); was Maria responsible for that? just my observation.

  5. Plato
    April 18, 2018

    Interesting since Just Monday a Dominican born doctor in Britain was on Q95 giving the impression that the government did not apologize and that they were using fancy British manner of speaking which we don’t understand. Anyway enough of these people who migrate to these countries and then see them as the ultimate place to be. I am happy that the prime minister has apologized a few days after the home Secretary did. However, I am still puzzled since we are all aware that it is the government who formulate policies and they are now pretending like it just came with the breeze. Hope it is rectified soon, to include returning those whom they have already deported. They owe us; not the other way around.

    • Anonymous
      April 19, 2018

      Hmm, interesting ( according to venerable Blessings). Didn’t that doctor do his traning in the U.K. Who paid for that I wonder. It is wrong what happened in the U.K. but be careful when you want to throw stones.

  6. Tj
    April 17, 2018

    Ageeed, Trump like

  7. Man bites dogs
    April 17, 2018

    Before you idiots start writing crap or pathetic comments as usual,it’s best to get all your facts right before commenting, and again it’s a second nature to black people all over the world!!

  8. Man bites dogs
    April 17, 2018

    Before you idiots start writing crap or pathetic comments as usual,it’s best to get all your facts right before commenting, and again it’s a second nature to black people all over the world.

  9. D/CAN TO DE Bone (f)
    April 17, 2018

    Imagine the home Secretary heard and knew look g time that was going on. The people affected to to the papers and media with their story …she did mothering about it utntil pressure was build up yesterday. ..

    We are black and they don’t give a dam

  10. Chess game
    April 17, 2018

    This is huge. I think health-care is the main reason as most of these people have retired or are retiring. Shame on Britain. They better pay reparations.

    • Builder Bob
      April 18, 2018

      these people were asked to become citizens in the 1980s but maybe dropped the ball on it. All countries have immigration and residency processes to follow including Dominica. If you don’t follow them you get asked to leave.

  11. April 17, 2018

    She is the British version of Trump.

  12. April 17, 2018

    She is the UK version of Trump.

    • Me
      April 19, 2018

      Impossible, she hasn’t got balls.

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