During an interview with BBC Radio 4 on Thursday, May contended that the increasing number of black people being stopped by police was evidence that individuals were being apprehended based on the color of their skin, adding that there was a “wider” societal issue at play.
May attempted to reinforce her passionate rhetoric on race by highlighting that during her time as PM she introduced the “race disparity audit,” which looked at discrimation within public services. However, people online have been left outraged by what May left out about her legacy on race issues while serving as home secretary (2010 - 2016) and later as prime minister (2016 - 2019).
Many critics on Twitter have pointed to the fact that she was the “architect” of the ‘hostile environment’ policy which culminated in the Windrush scandal. One commenter branded the Tory MP’s interview “Unbelievable hypocrisy, breathtaking.”
Another person sarcastically suggested that “she’s gonna flip when she hears about” the Windrush debacle and the hostile environment she championed at the time.
The 2018 Windrush scandal concerned people who were wrongly detained and denied benefits in the UK, with scores deported to Caribbean countries. It emerged that in 2010 the Home Office – led by May – destroyed the flight landing cards for a generation of Commonwealth citizens who had migrated to the UK, leaving many Caribbean migrants fearing for their right to remain in the country.
The ‘hostile environment’ was designed to make staying in the UK as difficult as possible, encompassed by the 2013 ‘go home vans’ that toured the country, trying to encourage ‘illegal immigrants’ to leave voluntarily.
May’s comments about racism come as research conducted by Labour’s Yvette Cooper – chair of the UK Parliament’s Home Affairs Select Committee – showed that young black men were stopped more than 20,0000 times in London during the coronavirus pandemic (March-May). Of those searched, over 80 percent resulted in “no further action” being taken.