Theresa May under pressure to scale back crackdown on suspected illegal immigrants amid mounting criticism of 'racist' spot checks

Tories fear spot checks and billboards are a political gift to Ukip

Deputy Political Editor

Theresa May, the Home Secretary, was under growing pressure from within Tory ranks last night to scale back the tough new crackdown on suspected illegal immigrants amid mounting criticism of her department’s tactics.

The Independent disclosed last week that officials had conducted a series of “racist and intimidatory” spot checks at railway stations in areas with large ethnic minority populations.

It followed controversy over a campaign in which trucks carrying the message “go home or face arrest” toured several London boroughs.

Both schemes were signed off by the Home Office. But the Liberal Democrats have condemned them, insisting they were not Coalition policy.

It emerged that Lynton Crosby, the Conservatives’ chief election strategist, who had been widely assumed to be behind the trucks scheme, feared the initiative had played into the hands of the UK Independence Party (Ukip).

He is understood to have made his displeasure clear during a private meeting with a lobbying company in London, agreeing that the initiative had created an unnecessary row over tactics and distracted from policy.

It also gave a platform to Ukip’s leader, Nigel Farage, who condemned the initiative as ill-conceived and “unBritish”, Mr Crosby agreed.

Downing Street has suggested the billboard scheme could go nationwide and insisted it was already working, although it could point to no firm evidence that was the case.

Meanwhile, the spot-checks have triggered an investigation by the Equality and Human Rights Commission for possible unlawful discrimination.

A black Tory adviser, Derek Laud, said yesterday he feared his party’s next general election campaign would resort to dog-whistle tactics on race.

Writing in The Independent on Sunday, Mr Laud protested that it was no coincidence that immigration was being raised as an issue by his party and bemoaned that more liberal attitudes to race were being sidelined.

“I have never called anyone racist. It is an often used and discredited cry. But this time, I believe the Conservative Party has shown it is racist. It will do anything, right or wrong, to bolster its poll ratings. Cameron's hard work around a modernity agenda ran into the sand. His party has never really embraced change, but he gave up the fight too soon,” he wrote.

The station spot-checks also came under fire from Martin Ruhs, a member of the Government's migration advisory committee, who warned against the draconian approach taken by other nations.

“In liberal democracies generally we don’t want to do the kinds of things that are commonplace in Singapore or maybe the Middle East,” he told the Observer.

“You have to draw the line somewhere. Different people will draw the line in different places over what is acceptable in how you treat people.

“Obviously the government has to do something about irregular immigration, but the issue is more complex than many policymakers believe. Some policies have an element of a spectacle – you want to send a signal, and those policies aren’t necessarily the most effective.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Coordinator

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Coordinator is requir...

Recruitment Genius: Area Sales Manager - Midlands

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer - 3-4 Month Fixed Contract - £30-£35k pro rata

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a 3-4 month pro rata fi...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £26,000+

£16000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Telesales Executive is requir...

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map