The UK minister for immigration has resigned over news that his cleaning lady is an illegal immigrant. He needed to make the decision after pushing forward plans for employers and businesses to do extra tests to ensure their immigrant workers were acting legally.
Mark Harper has employed the same cleaning lady for the last six years. After realizing that she was living in the country illegally, he apologized and handed his resignation to Prime Minister David Cameron. Cameron accepted the resignation on Saturday night, understanding his minster’s reasons; however, it was with regret. After the resignation, Cameron issued a statement explaining that the minister didn’t realize his cleaning lady was in the country illegally.
Harper did carry out his own checks on his staff and never found anything that would suggest the cleaner was an illegal immigrant. However, he holds himself to a higher standard than others due to his position in the Cabinet.
It has since been decided that he will not be investigated. If he was any other employer, he would not have done anything wrong. It is only due to Harper being in the public eye, and having the position that he did, that questions over an investigation have been raised.
The immigration minister has previously been at the center of great controversy, surrounding the “Go Home” campaign. Signs were posted on billboards and buses as advertisements, encouraging those in the United Kingdom illegally to leave on their own behalf, instead of waiting for officials to catch and deport them.
He chose to resign as immigration minister over his cleaning lady’s status, and acknowledges that there is a problem with people coming into the country to work from overseas. He checked his cleaner’s papers and passport, in 2007, when she was first hired. He did say that he considered checking them, again, in 2010 and then 2012, but he never did. Over the weekend, Harper was informed she did not have “indefinite leave” for working and living in the United Kingdom.
In fact, it has been a Conservative aim to reduce the number of new immigrants to less than 100,000 by the end of the coalition term, in 2015. In 2010, the number of people entering the country by the end of the term was expected to be around 200,000.
The Conservative Party is struggling in the polls for the upcoming European Election. One of its competition is the UK Independence Party (UKIP), which is anti-European Union and anti-immigration. There are fears that previous Conservative voters are switching to UKIP due to the stance on foreign workers.
After hearing about the resignation, the Labour Party used it as a chance to show that there are limits to the amount that landlords and employers can do. However, that is all that has been said, so far.
Liberty director, Shami Chakrabarti acknowledged that the proposed bill would lead to a “race relations nightmare” and that it was “bitter irony” that the minister was caught out failing his own checks. She suggested that the UK immigration minister should not have resigned over his cleaning lady’s status, but that the laws on immigrants should be removed.
By Alexandria Ingham