London, Apr 30: Pakistani-origin MP Sajid Javid was on Monday appointed as Britain's new Home Secretary to replace Amber Rudd, who resigned after admitting that she had "inadvertently misled" Parliament over the existence of deportation targets for illegal 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.
After his appointment, Javid vowed to review the country's immigration policy to make sure it was fair and people were treated with "dignity and respect".
"The most urgent task I have is to help those British citizens that came from the Caribbean, the so-called Windrush generation, and make sure that they are all treated with the decency and the fairness that they deserve. I think that's what people want to see," said Javid, whose parents were born in pre-Partition India before migrating to Pakistan and then to the UK in the 1960s.
Javid is the Conservative party MP for Bromsgrove since 2010 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.
Theresa May, who served as UK home secretary for many years before taking charge as the British Prime Minister in July 2016, has faced severe criticism over the dispute around the UK Home Office setting targets for enforced removals of illegal migrants. Asked if she should take some personal responsibility for 52-year-old Rudd's resignation, May said today: "When I was home secretary, yes, there were targets in terms of removing people from the country who were here illegally. If you talk to members of the public they want to ensure we are dealing with people who are here illegally."
In Rudd, Prime Minister May lost a close ally in the Cabinet and said she was "very sorry" to see her go, adding: "I think she can look back with pride as home secretary." Javid's appointment is widely seen as a way for May to curtail the backlash from the 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'.
"They came to this country after the Second World War to help rebuild it, they came from Commonwealth countries, they were asked to come in to (do) work that some people would describe as unattractive - my dad worked in a cotton mill, he worked as a bus driver," he said.
"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 Rudd 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 late last night. 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".
In response, May 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".
The issue centres around thousands of UK-based Jamaicans facing forced deportations due to lack of documentary evidence that they had the right to live and work in Britain because they arrived pre-1973, when stricter new visa norms came into force for all Commonwealth nationals migrating to the UK. 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 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. Rudd's resignation may weaken Prime Minister May's government. The prime minister doesn't have a majority in the UK parliament and is struggling with Brexit negotiations.