A member of Theresa May’s government has accused Labour of “opportunism and hypocrisy” over its attacks on the Tories on Windrush.
Mike Freer, a Government whip and MP for Margaret Thatcher’s old Commons seat of Finchley and Golders Green, hit out in an email to a constituent.
The MP was responding after his constituent wrote to him complaining she was “appalled and ashamed” to hear of the impact of the Prime Minister’s “hostile environment policy” on immigration.
Mr Freer replied: “I am sorry to hear that you have been misinformed. It is so sad that Opposition parties would seek to deliberately misquote and misinterpret what Theresa May said.
“The Windrush issue is absolutely nothing to do with immigration reforms introduced under the Cameron Government. Then the policy was to make it harder for ILLEGAL immigrants to settle in the UK. The Windrush people were and are legal. Wholly separate and unconnected.
“I would also point out that the decision to destroy the landing cards of the Windrush people was taken by the last LABOUR Government, so it really is the height of opportunism and hypocrisy for the Opposition to take some moral high ground.”
Mr Freer’s attack on Labour reflects the view of many Conservative MPs that Jeremy Corbyn’s party is attempting to exploit the Windrush controversy to deflect attention from its own race row over anti-Semitism.
His Finchley and Golders Green seat, in north-west London, has the largest Jewish population of any Parliamentary constituency in the country, at over a fifth of its residents.
It is in the outer London borough of Barnet, which is one of the key battlegrounds in the local elections on 3 May, with Labour attempting to snatch the council from the Conservatives.
Despite being a Government whip, a role that restricts his speaking in Parliament, Mr Freer has been a vocal campaigner against anti-Semitism. He joined the high-profile Parliament Square protest last month and wrote on the subject in The Times as recently as last week.
In her email to Mr Freer, his constituent wrote: “Apart from the terrible injustice to the many individuals concerned, ranging from losing their jobs, their homes, their right to health care, fearing deportation and being subjected to incredible levels of stress, what image of Britain are we projecting here?
“What must EU27 nations make of this conduct? How can Britain present itself as an honourable and trustworthy negotiating partner when it treats its own citizens and people who have made honest mistakes in such a dreadful fashion. It is truly shameful.”