Sajid Javid hints at 'hostile environment' rethink on first day as Home Secretary
Sajid Javid has suggested that the Government may water down its desire to create a "hostile environment" for illegal immigrants as he began work as the new Home Secretary.
He also insisted that helping those caught up in the Windrush scandal was his most "urgent task" after succeeding Amber Rudd following her dramatic resignation.
She told Theresa May in a telephone call on Sunday evening that she had decided to quit for "inadvertently" misleading MPs over the Home Office's use of deportation targets.
The Hastings and Rye MP was already embroiled in the Windrush scandal in which citizens of Caribbean origin have been threatened with deportation and lost access to public services because of a lack of paperwork, despite having lived in the UK for decades.
Arriving at the Home Office, Mr Javid said it was a "huge privilege" to become Home Secretary, adding: "The most urgent task I have is to help those British citizens who came from the Caribbean, the so-called Windrush generation, and make sure they are all treated with the decency and the fairness that they deserve.
"That's what people want to see and will be my most urgent task. Also I will help the Home Office every day to deal with its major task of tackling crime including serious crime, fighting terrorism and extremism and dealing with illegal immigration. And in doing that I’m really privileged to have a fantastic group of people in the staff here. And together we will work to make our country even stronger."
Mr Javid is already under pressure to oversee a much wider overhaul of the Government's approach to immigration following successive clampdowns in 2014 and 2016 that brought in a so-called "hostile environment" policy for illegal migrants.
Pressed on whether he would pursue a different approach in the Home Office, Mr Javid said: "We are going to have a strategy in place that does actually something the previous Home Secretary set out last week when she made a statement in parliament about making sure that we have an immigration policy that is fair, it treats people with respect and with decency - and that will be one of my most urgent tasks, to make sure we look carefully at the policy and make sure that it achieves just that fairness."
Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott said Mr Javid's appointment would "mean nothing unless Theresa May's ‘hostile environment’ policy is finally brought to an end", and urged the new Home Secretary to make a rethink his "first priority".
“As the Windrush scandal has proven, and as some of us warned the Government four years ago, this policy has ripped lives apart, including the lives of British nationals and others who have the right to be here," she added.
Labour's London mayor Sadiq Khan has welcomed Mr Javid's appointment, but he also made clear that he believes much broader changes to immigration policy are needed.
The Prime Minister informed Mr Javid of his promotion in a phone call this morning.
Her spokesman said: "Sajid Javid is one of the most experienced ministers around the Cabinet table. At housing he has proved his drive, his ambition and his determination to get to grips with difficult subjects and these are abilities which will all be required at the Home Office."
Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrats' Home Office spokesperson said Mr Javid faces “a mammoth task of turning around Theresa May's failures”.
“Today he walks into a department that has slashed police budgets and police numbers, presided over a rise in serious violent crime and cultivated an obsession with hardline policies on immigrants, personified by the Windrush scandal.
“He has to bring forward plans to invest more money in community policing, provide certainty to the Windrush generation and start providing answers on what future the 3 million EU citizens in this country would face under the Conservatives’ Brexit deal.”
Joanna Cherry, the SNP's Justice and Home Affairs spokesperson said the Home Office needed to undergo "root and branch reform".