Diane Abbott makes Theresa May gaffe during debate over Rwanda immigration plan

Diane Abbott mistakenly said Theresa May was the MP for Maidstone in a debate on the Rwanda immigration plan

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Ms Abbott referred to Mrs May in a debate and attempted to name the constituency the former Prime Minister represents – but named the wrong one.

It came as the Labour Party MP – and former Shadow Home Secretary – asked Home Office minister Tom Pursglove why he disagrees with the ex-Prime Minister on the plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda.

The MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington said: “The minister claims that the Rwanda scheme will be a way of diminishing the small boats crossing the Channel.

"But he will be aware that there is at least one member of this House who doesn’t support his scheme.

"And that is the member for Maidstone, who is a former Prime Minister, but also…”

Diane Abbott
Diane Abbott
Theresa May
Theresa May

The MP for Maidstone is actually Tory member Helen Grant, rather than Mrs May. She has held the seat since 2010 and was a minister for sport and tourism under David Cameron.

But Ms Abbott soon realised her mistake after a number of shouts from MPs in the Commons.

Correcting herself, she continued: “(The member for) Maidenhead, who is a former Prime Minister, but also a former Home Secretary.

"Can he explain to the House why he disagrees with his colleague and what makes him so sure that his scheme will not fall in the courts?”

Diane Abbott was Shadow Home Secretary under Jeremy Corbyn's tenure as Labour leader
Diane Abbott was Shadow Home Secretary under Jeremy Corbyn's tenure as Labour leader

Mr Pursglove replied: “I have huge respect and admiration for my right honourable friend, the member for Maidenhead.

“The bottom line here is that there is no one single intervention that will resolve this issue of itself, but we must strain every sinew.

"We believe that this is an important policy intervention that will shift the dynamic, that will help to preserve lives. And that is a fundamental imperative.

“You cannot put a cost on that. I am convinced that this policy will deliver along with the wider package of measures that we are introducing.

"I would encourage her to be in the right division lobby this week and pass the Bill into law.”

It came as Home Secretary Priti Patel said the reason “low” numbers of people fleeing the war in Ukraine had come to the UK is because many prefer to stay in the region.

Shadow Home Office minister Holly Lynch referenced reports of a Home Office whistleblower describing the scheme as “designed to fail”.

She said 40,000 visas have been issued under the Homes for Ukraine scheme.

Ms Lynch added: “Yet just 6,600 Ukrainians have actually arrived in the UK because families who need to travel together cannot do so, because just one family member, often a child, will have their visas delayed.”

Ms Patel replied: “In terms of the reason… of why low numbers have come to the UK, as I’ve already said, over 71,000 visas for both schemes have been granted, and it is a fact, and in fact the refugees minister, the honourable member Lord Harrington went to the region just… 10 days ago to find out why and what more could be done to bring families that have been granted their visas to come over.

“First and foremost, as we’ve heard repeatedly from the Ukrainian government… and from governments in the region as well… first of all that those families want to stay in the region.”

Addressing the point on younger children, she said: “Much of that is down to the checks because they’re not always travelling with parents and safeguarding checks are being undertaken to ensure that they are all linked members of families.”