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30 April 2018updated 04 Oct 2023 10:33am

Sajid Javid replaces Amber Rudd as Home Secretary – will he continue Theresa May’s legacy?

The former housing secretary has been promoted following Amber Rudd’s resignation.

By Anoosh Chakelian

Sajid Javid will be the new Home Secretary, No 10 has announced.

The former housing secretary will replace Amber Rudd, who resigned last night over conflicting accounts of how much she knew about deportation targets, following the Windrush Scandal.

James Brokenshire, the former secretary of state for Northern Ireland, replaces Javid at the Department for Housing, Communities and Local Government. Penny Mordaunt, the International Development Secretary, will take on the women and equalities brief.

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There’s a bit of excitement on the liberal Tory side at the prospect of the UK’s first Muslim Home Secretary ­­– the first Home Secretary, in fact, from an ethnic minority background.

At a time when the party’s attitude towards immigration is being dragged into the unflattering limelight by even the likes of the Mail, it’s a good look to have someone in the post from an immigrant background (Javid’s parents came to Britain from Pakistan in the Sixties).

Indeed, Javid told the Sunday Telegraph this weekend that his first thoughts were about his family – “I thought that could be my mum … my dad … my uncle … it could be me” – when he heard the way Windrush Generation citizens had been treated by the Home Office.

It’s this scandal that was his predecessor’s undoing. In a statement to the Home Affairs select committee, Rudd said there were no deportation targets. Leaks from the department contradicted this, as well as her subsequent claim that she wasn’t aware of them.

On the surface, Javid appears to be ideally placed to draw a line under this mess, which has been so damaging to the government’s reputation and to thousands of people’s lives.

As housing secretary, Javid lobbied the Treasury for more money to build houses. His tone was interventionist – last year he urged the government to borrow more money to boost housebuilding. The Chancellor Philip Hammond’s subsequent Budget prioritised housing, with the promise to build 300,000 houses per year, on average, by the mid-2020s – an investment worth £15bn.

Javid has something of a track record in earmarking spending money: he also recently announced a £50m fund to promote integration, with English classes and programmes to help women into work and have “British values” promoted in schools.

Earlier, as communities secretary (his former job title), he had already secured £5bn for housebuilding schemes in 2016, and a £2bn boost for council housing last year.

Yet despite these small victories, his efforts have been deemed nowhere near enough to fix Britain’s housing crisis, and he has failed to spend affordable housing money two years running. His tenure in that brief was also marred by failing to fulfil the promise to rehouse homeless Grenfell Tower victims within a year.

And anyone hoping his approach to extracting funds from the Treasury could translate into standing up to the government in favour of immigrants is likely to be disappointed.

Javid’s voting record shows that he has voted in favour of Theresa May’s “hostile environment” policies towards migrants across the board. These include measures like immigration checks for people opening bank accounts, restricting support for those whose asylum status is rejected, criminalising those who try to work, drive or rent when their immigration status prohibits it, and opposing softening detention policies for pregnant or vulnerable people.

According to his voting record, he has “almost always” voted for stronger enforcement of immigration rules and “consistently voted” for a stricter asylum system.

Javid is known for idolising 20th century libertarian thinker Ayn Rand (he reads a passage aloud from her book, The Fountainhead, twice a year), and Margaret Thatcher – as a rising star at the Treasury in 2013, he told me the Tory Prime Minister caused his “awakening to politics” as a young child. His right-wing instincts won’t change the tone at the Home Office.

He also sticks very closely to the Theresa May playbook on international students. In 2015, he said that they should leave Britain after graduating. As business secretary, this was a markedly different line to most past business or economic ministers, who had clashed with May about this in cabinet (including George Osborne and Vince Cable) – opposing her insistence on keeping foreign students in the immigration figures.

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