Ask refugees if Theresa May offers ‘a safe pair of hands’

May's campaign claims are not borne out by her Home Office record


A second Tory leadership ballot, scheduled for tonight, will confirm Theresa May as the frontrunner to be our next Prime Minister.

With her ‘safe hands’ campaign, May has won support from left and right, painting herself as neutral and competent, unlike her ideologically-driven opponents.

Because the transition has been so smooth (and because she wisely backed Remain) few have asked what role May — the longest-serving home secretary in decades — has played in the rise of anti-migrant, anti-refugee thinking that boiled over in the course of the referendum campaign.

But we should all remember:

  • This is the same ‘safe pair of hands’ that, in October 2014, defended pulling British support from all migrant search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean, because the Home Office believed the possibility of rescue was a ‘pull factor’.
  • The strong woman candidate who failed to prevent abuse, rape, sexual exploitation and self-harm at Yarl’s Wood detention centre.
  • The sombre, serious politicians Lord Dubbs told to stop smiling after the government voted against resettling 3,000 child refugees.
  • The compassionate Conservative who said that ‘economic migrants’ crossing the Mediterranean should be sent back to North Africa.
  • Who wantsto review the international legal definitions of asylum and refugee status‘ so that fewer people qualify.
  • Who has refused to involve Britain in a Europe-wide refugee resettlement scheme, despite appalling conditions in camps in Italy and Greece.
  • Who thinks we shouldn’t show compassion for asylum-seekers enduring the squalid conditions in Calais because they supposedly represent “the wealthiest, the luckiest and the strongest” and are less deserving of British help.
  • Who, as Europe and the world faces the most severe refugee crisis in over half a century, had a clear answer to those who called for a common European response: ‘not in a thousand years’.

As home secretary, May has led the government’s efforts to ignore and deny the refugee crisis, to force the burden on to other countries in Europe and the Middle East, and to build Fortress Britain.

The Conservative Party may be safe in her hands, but the world’s most desperate people certainly aren’t.

Niamh Ní Mhaoileoin is editor of Left Foot Forward. Follow her on Twitter.

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2 Responses to “Ask refugees if Theresa May offers ‘a safe pair of hands’”

  1. Nick

    Theresa like myself goes to church and we both have a bank of england background and we both are in the remain EU way of thinking

    as for the migrants issues i would think that’s just pandering to her conservative mp’s as they are not and never have been one for migrant’s’ but knowing they can’t do much tend to keep their mouth shut

    i myself however have always had a international background so am much more transparent on this type of issue

  2. ted francis

    Nick, although an atheist I respect the tenet of freedom of religion (or none) for all people. However, I must confess that I have encountered massive hypocrisy amongst so many declared Christians, predominately from the established religions. The history of Theresa May’s apparent indifference to human suffering, as evidenced above, despite being in a position to bring relief to many thousands (including small children), seems at odds to me with the much-heralded teachings of the church. To excuse/explain just one aspect of it as “just pandering to her conservative mp’s” is really compounding the felony. And remember Nick, she was the one who expressed shame that her party was known as the “nasty party”…..hypocrisy or what? There is nothing in her track record to suggest that the milk of human kindness runs richly through her veins. Incidentally, I think that all the migrant scare-mongers should be reminded that by the end of WW2 there were over 6 million refugees and displaced people in Europe alone – gosh didn’t that threaten our very existence !!?
    One must accept that Margaret Thatcher did more to damage the lives of the greater proportion of the population of this country than any Prime Minister since WW1. Well, if Mrs May is inflicted on us it’ll be a case of, as Al Jolson used to say, “…folks, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet….”
    On behalf of all the working people (ridiculous phrase) of the country, particularly those in poverty, those relying on food banks and those in jobs whose only protection is the trade union diminished muscle, on their behalves, pray to your God, Nick, that I am wrong.

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