Home Office staff have said they feel “nothing but the deepest shame” about Priti Patel’s Rwanda plan in questions and comments being put to the permanent secretary, The Independent can reveal.
Civil servants are due to tell Matthew Rycroft on Thursday afternoon the department is “yet again having its name dragged through the mud” by introducing the “ungodly immoral” policy, and call on the home secretary to answer their questions about the plan directly.
The critical feedback has been posted by Home Office employees on Slido – a platform used to gather questions ahead of online meetings.
The department arranged a team meeting after internal comments surfaced in which staff were threatening to mutiny over the plans to send asylum seekers to Rwanda.
Among 98 comments posted on Solid, seen by The Independent, one says: “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 learned 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 deliver 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 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 Email+ on Wednesday, one employee said: “Do we have a responsibility to not just leave, but to organize 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.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.