Vince Cable – June 22nd marks the 70th anniversary of the arrival of the Empire Windrush

Onboard were around 500 settlers from various Caribbean islands, including Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago, who had been invited to help rebuild post-War Britain.

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June 22nd marks the 70th anniversary of the arrival of the Empire Windrush, a former German cruise ship and passenger liner, at Tilbury Dock in Essex. Onboard were around 500 settlers from various Caribbean islands, including Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago, who had been invited to help rebuild post-War Britain.  
 
Many of them would go on to fill labour shortages in the National Health Service, which was founded just a fortnight after the ship had reached Britain. For nearly a quarter of a century, the so-called ‘Windrush generation’ of people who arrived from the Caribbean – including an estimated 15,000 from Jamaica alone – would play an invaluable role in our country. They worked hard, paid taxes, becoming part of the fabric of British society, as would their children and grandchildren. We all owe them a great debt.  
 
Yet they have been betrayed because of deep-rooted failings in the Home Office and its treatment of migrants. More than 60 people already appear to have been wrongly deported as a result of the recent Windrush scandal, though there are likely to be many more as officials scour thousands of records dating back 16 years. It is disgraceful that those who have contributed so much to the success of this country face the fear of wrongful deportation and have been subjected to the ‘hostile environment’.  
 
The public outcry in response to the scandal has at least destroyed the working assumption of successive governments that there needs to be ever more restrictive measures on immigration. Instead, the public has been ahead of the political class in condemning this terrible injustice.  
 
Those who boarded the Empire Windrush did so on the promise they would arrive as British citizens. And that is what they are, no less British than any one of us. Let us use the 70th anniversary of the first arrival of the Windrush generation to reflect on how we can better exercise the principles of openness and inclusivity

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