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Pakistan-origin MP appointed new UK home secretary

April 30, 2018 16:40 IST

Sajid Javid, the son of a Pakistani bus driver whose family migrated to Britain in the 1960s, becomes the first South Asian origin MP to hold a key portfolio in the UK Cabinet.

IMAGE: Home Secretary Sajid Javid walks out of the Home Office. Javid has been appointed Home Secretary following Amber Rudd's resignation. Photograph: Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images

Pakistani-origin MP Sajid Javid was on Monday appointed as Britain’s new Home Secretary, hours after his predecessor Amber Rudd resigned after admitting that she had “inadvertently misled” Parliament over the existence of deportation targets for immigrants.

Javid, the son of a Pakistani bus driver whose family migrated to Britain in the 1960s, was promoted from his Cabinet post of Communities, Local Government and Housing minister.

The 48-year-old former investment banker becomes the first South Asian origin MP to hold the key portfolio in the UK Cabinet.

He is the Conservative party MP for Bromsgrove and has previously held business and culture portfolios in the UK government.

 

“The Queen has been pleased to approve the appointment of Sajid Javid MP as secretary of state for the home department,” a Downing Street statement said.

His appointment is widely seen as a way for British Prime Minister Theresa May to curtail the backlash from the so-called Windrush scandal, which brought to light the unfair treatment of Commonwealth citizens from Jamaica over a lack of citizenship documentation.

“I was really concerned when I first started hearing and reading about some of the issues. It immediately impacted me. I’m a second-generation migrant. My parents came to this country... just like the Windrush generation,” Javid wrote in ‘The Sunday Telegraph’.

“When I heard about the Windrush issue I thought, ‘That could be my mum… it could be my dad… it could be my uncle… it could be me,” he added.

James Brokenshire, the former Northern Ireland secretary who stood down in January due to health reasons to have a tumour removed from his lung, has been moved into Javid’s old job as Housing, Communities and Local Government secretary.

UK international development secretary, Penny Mordaunt, takes on the additional role of minister for equalities.

The resignation of 52-year-old Rudd, a key ally of May, followed weeks of pressure ever since her statement to the Parliament’s Home Affairs Select Committee denying knowledge of any targets to remove illegal migrants from the UK.

Leaked memos and letters in the media seemed to contradict her claims, resulting in her decision to step down.

The furore has grown since The Guardian reported that some people who came to the UK from the Caribbean in the decades after World War II had recently been refused medical care in Britain or threatened with deportation because they could not produce paperwork proving their right to reside in the country.

Those affected belong to the Windrush generation, named for the ship Empire Windrush, which in 1948 brought hundreds of Caribbean immigrants to Britain to help it rebuild after the devastation of World War II.

In recent weeks, Rudd and May have apologised repeatedly to the Windrush generation, saying all pre-1973 Commonwealth immigrants who don’t already have British citizenship will get it, and those affected will get compensation.

Rudd said she took “full responsibility” for the fact that she was not aware of “information provided to (her) office which makes mention of targets”.

She telephoned May to tell her of her decision, but in a letter that officially marked it she wrote: “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.”

May said she understood why Rudd was stepping down and confirmed she had read her letter, adding: “I was very sorry to receive it.”

The prime minister said she believed Rudd had given her evidence to the House of Commons “in good faith” but that she understood her decision to resign and take “responsibility for inadvertently misleading the home affairs select committee”.

Rudd’s resignation may weaken Prime Minister Theresa May’s government. The prime minister doesn’t have a majority in the UK parliament and is struggling with Brexit negotiations.

Since May lost her parliamentary majority in elections last June, her leadership has often been under question, and she has already suffered three prior cabinet resignations.

Rudd became the fourth person forced to resign from the UK Cabinet in the last six months -- following former defence minister Sir Michael Fallon, former international development minister Priti Patel and May’s deputy Damian Green.

The latest resignation comes just days before local council elections in Britain, due to be held on May 3, during which the Opposition parties will hope to capitalise on some of the upheaval in government.

Aditi Khanna
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