SAJID JAVID, is the face of a modem, multicultural and meritocratic Britain, writes Rithika Siddhartha.
One of the first crises he tackled since becoming home secretary was the Windrush scandal, which saw members of the Caribbean community facing an uncertain future in the UK despite legally living in this country for decades because they lacked the documents to show for it.
Earlier this year as he launched a compensation scheme for those who experienced injustices in the scandal, he said: “I’ve heard heartbreaking stories of how people have suffered personally, but also how their families have been affected.
“My own parents came to the UK in the 1960s, with just a pound between them before building a life here through hard work and graft. It was people just like my mum, my dad, my brother or even me, who were treated so unjustly, and that is why I am determined to put things right.”
Thousands of black migrants were affected by the scandal, which led to the resignation of Javid’s predecessor Amber Rudd as home secretary.
Campaigners and politicians criticised the government for not acting on time despite being made aware of the problem affecting the Windrush generation.
Javid said: “I know we have more to do to rebuild the trust we lost,” and added: “I’m also committed to reviewing the entire immigration system, to make sure that it is fair and humane, and protects those that are vulnerable!”
However, he was criticised for his decision this year to strip London teenager Shami-ma Begum of her British citizenship, a move designed to show his uncompromising stance on those who joined extremists in Syria, such as Daesh, which Begum and her friends joined four years ago.
She was 15 when she left east London for Syria and was heavily pregnant when found by journalists in a refugee camp in Syria.
Begum said she wanted to return home to save her baby, saying that her two older children had died, apparently from illness and malnutrition. She lost the third baby too.
Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott MP said the baby’s death was “a stain on the conscience of this government” and accused Javid of revoking Begum’s citizenship “to appease the right-wing press”.
He “failed this British child, and he has a lot to answer for’; Abbott added.
Last October, when a grooming gang comprising Asians was convicted in Huddersfield, Javid tweeted: “These sick Asian paedophiles are finally facing justice.”
MPs and campaigners criticised the home secretary for focusing on the ethnicity of the gang, rather than the horrific crimes they had committed. But Javid stood his ground, saying his comment was “absolutely appropriate”
Indeed, he then launched an investigation to see if cultural factors played a role in why those guilty of grooming involved Pakistani men. There has been no update on the findings of that investigation.
Javid was previously secretary of state for communities and local government. At the time of the Grenfell blaze two years ago, he was praised for his handling of the grim tragedy that claimed 71 lives.
Prime minister Theresa May was criticised for not meeting survivors and families of vic-tims but Javid met them and also the fire services and rescue workers.
He described how it affected him, saying: “As a minister, I have always been prepared to make tough decisions.
“I understood the pressures that come with public life, but this disaster has shaken my comprehension of what it means to be in office!”