Amid the escalating row over the planned deportation of 50 people on a chartered deportation flight to Jamaica tomorrow Tottenham MP David Lammy has stepped up the pressure on the government asking it to demonstrate that “black lives matter”.
In an angry and emotional debate in the Commons Lammy joined fellow MP in condemning the move.
More than 170 MPs have signed a letter urging Boris Johnson’s government to postpone the flight.
During the debate Lammy said: “We are almost now two years on and people watching see the way this government holds in such disrespect the contribution of West Indian, Caribbean and black people in this country. When will black lives matter once again?”
Lammy accused the government of giving the impression that only murderers and rapists would be on the flight, when many were non-violent offenders.
In the letter to Boris Johnson, organised by Labour MP Nadia Whittome, MPs warned of the “unacceptable risk” of removing anyone with a potential Windrush claim.
Ms Whittome wrote: “The fact is that many of the individuals in question have lived in the UK since they were children and at least 41 British children are now at risk of losing their fathers through this charter flight.
“The Government risks repeating the mistakes of the Windrush scandal unless it cancels this flight and others like it until the Windrush Lessons Learned Review has been published and its recommendations implemented.”
But responding to Ms Whittome in the Commons, Boris Johnson said: “The people of this country will think it right to send back foreign national offenders.”
The Home Office has previously said the flight was “specifically for removing foreign criminals” and it included “people convicted of manslaughter, rape, violent crime and dealing Class A drugs”.
Number 10 has said all the people on the flight have sentences of 12 months or more.
Lammy’s questions in the Commons and the letter signed by MPs come after a leaked independent review by Wendy Williams, HM inspector of constabulary which said the government should consider ending the deportation of foreign-born offenders who came to the UK as children.
Tuesday’s flight is expected to include a man who moved to the UK aged five.
Earlier on Monday, Cabinet Minister Rishi Sunak was asked about the case of Tajay Thompson who is facing deportation to Jamaica having served half of a 15-month sentence in 2015 after being convicted of possessing class A drugs with intent to supply at 17.
Mr Thompson, now 23 and living in south London, said he has no links to the Caribbean nation, which he has only visited twice since coming to the UK aged five.
“I feel like I was born here.
“Jamaica is not my country,” Mr Thompson said as he insisted he was groomed into a gang as a teenager.
“It’s not like I’m a rapist or a murderer, I’ve made a mistake when I was 17 and it’s now going to affect my whole life.”