HOME SECRETARY Sajid Javid on Monday (27) entered the race to be Britain’s next prime minister, promising to “deliver Brexit” and pledging to heal the divide between communities.
Javid, who campaigned for Remain in the 2016 EU referendum, is among 10 contenders in the race to be the next Conservative leader.
Former foreign secretary Boris Johnson is regarded as the favourite to succeed the prime minister.
Others who have declared their interest in the top job include current foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt, environment secretary Michael Gove and former Brexit secretary Dominic Raab.
Announcing his candidacy, Javid said: “We must bridge divides to heal communities, reminding us of our shared values as a United Kingdom:”
Referring to the drubbing that the Conservatives received in European Parliament elections last week, Javid said the new party leader had to restore voters’ trust.
“As last night’s results made all too clear, we must get on and deliver Brexit to make sure there is renewed trust in our democracy;’ he said on Monday in a video message posted on Twitter.
Javid, whose father emigrated from Pakistan and worked as a bus driver, is the first Asian to hold one of the great offices of the state.
Following her tearful resignation last Friday (24), the prime minister will step down as Conservative leader on June 7, but she will stay on in Downing Street until party members have chosen her successor, which will happen by July 20.
Britain’s EU departure date is currently fixed for October 31, although any new leader could ask for a further delay.
Javid has not indicated if he would pull Britain out of the EU with or without a deal when the new deadline arrives.
The former investment banker, 49, went to Exeter University before embarking on a career in the City. He represents Bromsgrove in parliament and is a married father of four.
When he became home secretary in April last year, Javid sought to distance himself from the “hostile environment” policy towards illegal immigrants pursued by Theresa May when she led the department.
Javid said he disliked the term, and said he preferred “compliance” when it came to immigration.
Thinktank British Future director Sunder Katwala told Eastern Eye: “Sajid Javid is an important example of how Britain benefits from immigration when we get integration right too. ”
He has a compelling personal story about the opportunities which Britain offered to him, as the child of migrants from Pakistan, and how he has made the most of that in education, business and now politics.
“He can make that relevant to everybody not just to British Asians – if he establishes what now needs to change to overcome the barriers to equal opportunity in Britain so that everybody should be able to rise as far as their efforts and talents can take them.
“At a time when the country feels too divided, his challenge is to make the case for a leader that offers new ideas to bridge our divides, not fight a culture war between left and right, or remain and leave.”
Conservative Friends of India co-chair and businessman Dr Rami Ranger told Eastern Eye: “I am supporting the home secretary, the Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP, as he has been a great friend of India and can also unite our fractured party.
“He is a sober and mature politician who can carry everyone with him and has no political baggage.”
Javid recently spoke about how he has been subjected to racist abuse from both the left and right.
“I get it from the far left, including lots of Asians, who say: ‘He’s not brown enough: I get it from the right, and the far right, in particular, saying: ‘He’s too brown;’ Javid said.
He also said anyone can become Britain’s prime minister, irrespective of their background or faith.
“I think in Britain, anyone who’s capable, regardless of whether they’re Muslim or Hindu, for that matter, or any other religion or no religion, can be prime minister?
Asian peer Lord Jitesh Gadhia said: “I hope that any future prime minister will redouble efforts to tackle racial inequality and ensure that we live in a truly meritocratic society which provides an opportunity for everyone to fulfil their full potential regardless of their background.
“I hope that all Tory leadership contenders will continue to prioritise the relationship with India and, in particular, address some of the contradictions between the vision of global Britain and our current immigration policies?
Javid has won the support of MPs Robert Halfon, Simon Hoare, and John Glen.