Pakistan-origin Sajid Javid becomes new UK home secretary after immigration row

Sajid Javid, whose parents migrated from Pakistan to Britain, was on Monday appointed the UK home secretary after Amber Rudd resigned following bruising headlines on immigration and her lack of awareness of Home Office activities.

Javid, 48, is the first member of an ethnic minority to hold the keyoffice of home secretary.

Rudd was the fifth cabinet minister to resign after Prime Minister Theresa May formed her minority government following the 2017 general elections. One of them was Priti Patel, who left following her unauthorised meetings with Israeli officials while on a holiday.

Javid is a former banker whose father was a bus driver. His rise in politics is often hailed as an example of Britain’s multiculturalism.

He has made several visits to India and interacted with Indian functionaries in his previous role in the departments of culture and business. He was closely involved in developments related to the sale of Tata Steel’s operations in Britain.

Rudd’s departure is seen as a blow to May, who, as home secretary in the David Cameron government during 2010-15, had put in place a set of policies to create a “hostile environment” for illegal immigrants. Rudd was carrying forward May’s policies, which caused her downfall.

Two related developments led to Rudd’s departure. One was her handling of the row over the treatment of what is called the “Windrush generation” – mainly people of Caribbean origin, who have lived in Britain for decades but were treated by the Home Office like illegal immigrants.

Secondly, Rudd told the Home Affairs Select Committee of Parliament last week that her office did not have targets to remove illegal immigrants from the UK, while leaks in the media revealed such targets existed. This made her position untenable.

May and Rudd apologised for the treatment of the Windrush generation during the recent Commonwealth summit attended by leaders from Caribbean countries, among others. Rudd said in her resignation letter she had “inadvertently misled” the select committee on targets.

Rudd, who was lauded for her handling of terror attacks in Britain in 2017, wrote to May: “It is with great regret that I am resigning as home secretary. I feel it is necessary to do so because I inadvertently misled the Home Affairs Select Committee over targets for removal of illegal immigrants during their questions on Windrush.

“Since appearing before the select committee, I have reviewed the advice I was given on this issue and become aware of information provided to my office which makes mention of targets. I should have been aware of this, and I take full responsibility for the fact that I was not.”

May responded: “I was very sorry to receive it, but understand your reasons for doing so. When you addressed the House of Commons and the Home Affairs Select Committee last week on the issue of illegal immigration, you answered the questions put to you in good faith.”

“People who have entered the United Kingdom illegally or overstayed here should expect to face the full force of the law and know that they will be removed if they will not leave this country voluntarily.”

“Just as importantly, people who have come here legally and enriched the life of our country should not expect the state unreasonably to challenge their presence here; rather, it should help them prove their right to continue living here and contributing to the life of our nation.”

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