Home Office staff tell bosses they feel ‘nothing but deepest shame’ over ‘ungodly’ Rwanda plan

Exclusive: Avalanche of questions and comments directed at permant secretary from employees raising alarm over ‘immoral’ policy

Archbishop of Canterbury criticises Rwanda policy during Easter message

Home Office staff have said they feel “nothing but the deepest shame” about Priti Patel’s Rwanda plan in questions and comments for the permanent secretary, The Independent can reveal.

Civil servants said the department was “yet again having its name dragged through the mud” by introducing the “ungodly, immoral” policy, and called on the home secretary to answer their questions about the plan directly.

The critical feedback was posted by Home Office employees on Slido – a platform used to gather questions ahead of online meetings.

The department arranged a team meeting on Thusday afternoon after internal comments surfaced in which staff were threatening to mutiny over the plans to send asylum seekers to Rwanda.

The Independent has been told that Mr Rycroft’s key messages during the meeting were that the Rwanda policy was “primarily to stop the people trafficking trade”, and that while value for money had “not been proven”, the department was confident the policy does not breach international law.

Priti Patel has been defending the plan from widespread criticism

“The steer was clearly that this policy will not be amended and it is down to the department to agree the best way to operationalise it,” said one civil servant, who went on to say: “Dark days”.

Among 98 comments posted on Slido, seen by The Independent, one said: “Over past few years, it has been difficult to be a Home Office employee, given public perceptions. I stayed because I felt things were changing for the better.

“Today, I feel nothing but the deepest shame. Welcoming Ukrainians with open arms and shipping others to the other side of the world. What are we?”

Another member of staff said: “Have we learnt nothing from Windrush? The Home Office is yet again having its name dragged through the mud by introducing this ‘ungodly’ immoral policy.”

A third civil servant asked: “Given that she is expecting us to delivery this policy, and given the clear concerns of the public and her own department, will the home secretary be coming on a call with staff to answer our questions, and address our concerns, directly?”

Questioning the alternative options for asylum seekers who could face removal to East Africa, another asked: “As this is a policy in response to illegal migration to the UK, please will you briefly identify the legal means for people to claim asylum in the UK (without being sent to Rwanda)?”

Another employee said: “‘I am proud to work for the Home Office’ is likely to plumb to record lows in this year’s staff survey.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury has been highly critical of the plan

The Independent understands that the majority of Home Office staff found out about the Rwanda deal only when it was announced in the press last Thursday.

In separate comments made by Home Office staff on an internal online noticeboard, revealed by Mail+ on Wednesday, one employee said: “Do we have a responsibility to not just leave, but to organise and resist? We cannot simply wash our hands and walk away.”

Another employee made a reference to the post-war Nazi trials at Nuremberg, writing: “The words ‘I was only obeying orders’ are echoing down through history to me and making me queasy.”

A third member of staff asked: “I find the government proposal totally unethical and it impacts directly upon my workstream. As a civil servant can I refuse this type of work in contravention of my own ethics?”

A Home Office spokesperson, said the department was “committed to constructive and open conversations with staff on our policies”.

They added: “However, personal attacks are unacceptable and we will remove comments from our channels that are disrespectful, break our guidelines or contravene the civil service values of integrity, honesty, objectivity and impartiality.”

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