The Public Opinion on Amber Rudd’s Resignation
If the saying that a week is a long time in politics feels like an outdated cliché, recent events show that it is still as relevant as ever.
Take ex-Home Secretary Amber Rudd.
One day, you are holder of one of the four great offices of state. Then a week later you’re discussing dual carriageway plans for the A21.
Ms Rudd, once tipped as a future Prime Minister, resigned as Home Secretary on Sunday evening after admitting she ‘inadvertently’ misled Parliament over deportation targets.
The MP for Hastings and Rye had previously denied the existence of such targets but said in her resignation letter to Theresa May that she should have been aware of them.
An exclusive survey carried out by Atomik Research shows that just over half (56%) of Brits believe Ms Rudd was right to fall on her sword, with just 16% saying she should have carried on.
Women were more forgiving than men, with 48% of females polled saying she was right to go compared to 65% of blokes.
Forty-two per cent of those polled thought Ms Rudd jumped before she was pushed, with only 23% saying she stood a chance of survival had she clung on to power.
Amber Rudd was only the third woman to hold the position of Home Secretary – the previous incumbent was the current Prime Minister.
Nearly half (49%) of people questioned in our survey believe that Mrs May knew her Home Secretary was misleading Parliament when she denied the existence of deportation targets.
Distrust of the PM was greatest among the 35-44 age group, with 59% thinking Mrs May really did know the truth about targets.
Although Ms Rudd ostensibly resigned over targets, the root of her fall from grace really began when the Windrush scandal broke.
Migrants from the Caribbean became known as the Windrush generation after the name of the ship that brought 492 Jamaican people who wanted to live and work in Britain in 1948. Those who arrived in Britain from the Caribbean before 1973 were told they had to prove they were eligible to stay in the country. However, it emerged that their landing cards had been destroyed in 2010 – months after Mrs May became Home Secretary.
The move was part of the ‘hostile environment’ policy introduced during Mrs May’s stint as Home Secretary aimed at making life as difficult as possible for illegal immigrants.
More than half (54%) of people interviewed said the PM should be held responsible for the Windrush fiasco, with just 24% saying she was blameless. Londoners were the most adamant in saying Mrs May should be held to account, with 69% saying she should face the music. But the PM enjoyed more support from those in the East Midlands, Northern Ireland and the South East of England where just 43% said she should be held responsible.
However, the fall-out could hit the Tories where it hurts at the next General Election, scheduled for 2022. Our survey showed that, in the traditional Tory stronghold of the South East, 36% of people surveyed said they would vote for Mrs May. This compared with 39% who said they would not stick their cross next to a Tory on the ballot paper.
The job of Home Secretary was perceived by those polled to be the third hardest job in the Cabinet, after the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
The Home Office brief is huge, covering immigration, anti-terror operations, police and fire – as well as the women and equalities department. Sixty-six per cent of people thought the department is too big and should be broken up into separate ministries
But Thirty per cent said they thought Ms Rudd’s replacement, Sajid Javid, would be a good Home Secretary, compared with 21% who thought he would not and 50% who were unsure.
Now that Ms Rudd has (slightly) more time on her hands – she is still a constituency MP – there are a number of jobs advertised in her constituency if she needs something to fall back on. She was, famously, the ‘aristocracy co-ordinator’ on hit Brit flick Four Weddings and A Funeral.
Of the local jobs in Hastings and Rye on offer this week, the three most popular suggestions among people we surveyed were intelligence officer, part-time KFC team member … and a civil service apprenticeship.